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Former minister warns media not to report on allegations of his misconduct while in office

(MISA/IFEX) - On 10 June 2008, former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Bazuka Mhango, who is also a Member of Parliament, warned the media not to report on allegations levelled against him by fellow parliamentarian Ibrahim Matola.

Matola, an opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) legislator, alleged during deliberations on the 2008/09 national budget that Mhango dubiously received over MK42 million (approx. US$310,000) from the government as legal fees when he was in cabinet, which was contrary to the government's prohibition on ministers engaging in legal work.

Warning the press not to report on the matter, which he said was in court, Mhango said Parliamentary privilege does not extend to the media.

Mhango also threatened to sue any Member of Parliament who speaks about the allegations outside the National Assembly. He said parliamentarians hide behind parliamentary privilege to make unfounded allegations.

But Member of Parliament for Blantyre South West Gerald Mponda differed with Mhango, arguing the former minister has no right to stop the media from reporting on parliamentary proceedings.

Mponda said the press is free to report on all parliamentary proceedings and therefore should not be intimidated.

Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jones Chingola, who was presiding over the deliberations, did not make any ruling on Mhango's threats against the media.

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