Former president Joyce Banda has won a litigation battle over insinuations that she was behind the death of her predecessor Bingu Wa Mutharika five years ago, the Sunday Times reported.Ms. Banda had sued the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and current Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa after she was fingered in publications over Bingu’s death in 2012.
Her predecessor had died of cardiac arrest at State House in Lilongwe, clearing the way for her to take over as Malawi’s first female president.
The Sunday Times quoted a purported ruling by Malawi High Court Judge Michael Tembo last Thursday in favour of Ms. Banda and ordered that the litigant be paid damages by the defendants MBC and Minister Nankhumwa.
“In the foreseen circumstances, this court finds that the Plaintiff has proved that the defendants are liable for defamation. The Plaintiff sought aggravated or exemplary damages. Exemplary damages will be awarded for arbitrary, oppressive or unconstitutional conduct by servant of the government” the judgment said.
The court also ordered that the extent of the damages on Mrs. Banda be assessed by the registrar after which a date will be set to notify her accusers.
Both the MBC and the state official have not commented.
Banda had described the accusation of being the mastermind of Bingu’s death as a serious blow to her reputation as an individual, posing a “serious danger” to her life.
She had been on a collision course with former political ally President Bingu Wa Mutharika shortly before his death, sparking rumours that she had masterminded his demise to take over the Malawian presidency.
Such accusations were aired on MBC and later published by a local newspaper.
Although the defendants had recanted and suggested settling the issue out of court, claiming they had not directly accused the former president, Banda had pressed ahead with the case.
67-year-old Joyce Banda was president from 7 April 2012 to 31 May 2014 when she lost the presidency to Bingu’s younger brother Peter Mutharika.