Malawi consumer rights activist John Kapito, arguably President Joyce Banda’s sole fierce critic, has claimed that he is receiving death threats over his remarks that the President created an artificial maize scarcity to justify her maize distribution gestures.
Kapito, who is executive director of the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama), in a statement made available to Nation Online claims that he has had two attacks since March 30 2013.
He said he has recently been receiving phone calls in which the callers are issuing him with death threats.
But presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane on Tuesday distanced the President from the threats. He described Kapito’s remarks as defamatory.
Said Nhlane in a written response: “Any news story to be published in a newspaper or aired on radio or TV station based on that statement is defamatory. A similar issue is already in court.
“Anybody and everybody knows that Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda is not violent. Her Excellency was out of the country from 16th March to April 1 2013.”
Kapito said on March 30 2013 he was almost attacked by knobkerrie-wielding people who followed him from Bvumbwe Trading Centre in Thyolo to Chigumula in Blantyre, on the Limbe-Thyolo Road, for allegedly accusing the President that she was politicising maize and making maize unaffordable and inaccessible on the market.
He said his immediate reaction was to report the matter to police but did not do so “because I have endured so many of such threats in the past and where I have reported to police, nothing has happened.”
Kapito said the threats have worsened since the President went on the political podium to challenge and take him to court over the maize issue.
Recently, Kapito received letters of demand from lawyers representing the President on the allegations of politicising maize, making it unaffordable and inaccessible on the market.
He said: “I am ready to appear before the courts and be hanged as she [the President] wishes, but through the proper legal process.”
Kapito, among other things, has been critical of the Joyce Banda administration’s floatation of the kwacha after its 49 percent devaluation in May last year. He argues that the subsequent floatation and adoption of the automatic pricing mechanism for fuel have pushed upwards the cost of goods and services, making them unaffordable to the majority of poor.