There is this man called Joshua Chisa Mbele. I don’t know him very well, and I have never spoken to him. But I know that in the 2019 Parliamentary elections, he contested for the Salima Central seat and flopped. If I am not mistaken, he came a distant fourth if not fifth. I also see a lot of his Facebook screenshots on social media. He is mostly in the news for wrong reasons. On the whole, he comes across as someone who likes getting entangled in petty issues, purely to draw public attention.
The last time I checked, he was making a public apology to Nick Chakwera, son to State President Lazarus Chakwera, over alleged defamatory remarks he made on Facebook linking the young Chakwera to the infamous plunder of the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds. Chakwera sued for defamation and the apology was part of restitution the Lilongwe High Court in August this year ordered him to make.
The court also directed Mbele to retract the offending publication by permanently deleting it in its entirety from his Facebook wall. He was also ordered to publish the apology in two most circulating daily newspapers—The Nation and The Daily Times—twice every week for four consecutive weeks. I am not sure if he has done that.
This week, through another Facebook post, Mbele claims in 2017, or thereabout, he established an online publication www.orakonews.com and bought most journalists from The Nation and The Daily Times to write stories exposing the Salima-Lilongwe Water Way project. He also claims Nyasatimes has been buying journalists from the two newspapers. On his newspaper project, he also claims they used to pay journalists for useless stories. Meaning journalists from the two newspapers can be hired to write anything as long as they are well-paid for the job.
To start with, by saying they hired most journalists from the two newspapers, Mbele is defaming scribes from the two media houses and, by extension, demeaning the media houses they work for. But one may ask, why is he doing that?
In ChiTumbuka they say Kalulu na chivwati chake (When you want to kill game hiding in or behind a shrub, you don’t care how much damage you cause to the shrub). Former Cabinet minister George Chaponda once said you really don’t care breaking the house on fire to rescue a child in it.
Of course, there is not much Mbele can do to save himself from the self-inflicted embarrassment and humiliation from the court ruling, but there is no question he finds a lot of solace to see others die with him. As they say, ‘a wounded buffalo is pitiless; it will harm anyone on its way’.
I am not defending journalists from the two media houses. Rather, I am saying Mbele is trying to tell all and sundry, and specifically the Lilongwe High Court which is humiliating him through the newspaper apologies, that the newspapers have no moral ground to be used as instruments for reforming him because they are not manned by saints.
To the two media houses—Nation Publications Limited and Blantyre Newspapers—and all their journalists, here is someone dragging your names on sewer. An accusation against some is an indictment on everyone in the maligned organisations. If Mbele wants to be taken seriously about his claims, let him not hide behind generalities by simply saying ‘most journalists,’ are corrupt. Don’t they have names? He should name and shame them. And be ready to defend himself all the way with evidence. Only then will serious people take him seriously.
That said, there is no doubt Mbele is an attention-seeker. But he is callous, likes defaming people and needs to be stopped in his tracks.