Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works Charles Mchacha has court controversy after being involved in a row with a reporter of Nation Publications Limited as an audio of his foul-mouthing rant is going viral on social media.
In the audio circulating on messenger sharing platforms such as Whatsapp and Telegram like fire in the dry bush, the reporter Bobby Kabango recorded a phone conversation with Mchacha and the deputy minister actually challenged that he be on record.
Mchacha in the one who telephoned the reporter querying him why he had sent a questionnaire to Ministry of Lands over the controversial sale of Forestry Department land in Blantyre to him.
In trying to intimidate the reporter not to expose the sale of the land approved by a fellow Cabinet member, Minister of Lands Symon Vuwa-Kaunda, Mchacha insulted the reporter.
Mchacha said there was nothing wrong in acquiring the piece of land from Kanjedza Forest as he followed “all right” procedures.
“I am not the only one who got a piece of land there. Over 600 plots have been sold [at Kanjedza],” he said in a highly charged tonne.
Mchacha gave a stream of abuse to the reporter.
“You are too stupid! Mache*** ako…. (f**k you), pa ***** pako” said Mchacha.
“You can record and report it. I don’t care,” added the irate Mchacha—who is also regional governor (South) for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Mchacha also hurled insults at the publication’s editors as reporter Kabango remained civil and calm.
Churning out vulgarities is common among minibus touts in Malawi and Mchacha is a graduate of that school.
A social-economic commentator Stanley Onjezani Kenani has said the verbal abuse Mchacha hurled at a journalist is “utterly reprehensible “and has no place in a democracy.
“We expect cabinet ministers to lead by example by expressing their opinions within the confines of civility. Clearly, the abusive language aimed at intimidating and harrassing the journalist who was only doing his job. One would expect Mr. Mchacha – a senior government official – to be at the forefront protecting the rights of journalists.
“Media freedom is one of the freedoms we fought for in 1994, and it must be the duty of all government officials – cabinet ministers included – to ensure that journalists operate in an environment that is free and devoid of threats to their lives,” said Kenani.
Meanwhile, the publication reported that Mchacga got the land after applying for 1.2497 hectares of the said land.
The offer letter, with reference number SR/BT/19/94, from the Regional Commissioner of Lands (South) Peter Chikweni, but signed by Vuwa-Kaunda himself, informed Mchacha that the said plot was available for him upon paying development fees of K30.5 million.
But the lease document from “the Minister of the Malawi Government Responsible for Land Matters” citized by the publication, granted Mchacha approval to lease 1.171 hectares of leasehold land for 99 years from July 1 2019 before he paid for it.
Mchacha paid the whole amount on October 14 2019—through NBS Bank, Blantyre Service Centre—three days after the land was offered to him.
But while Mchacha made the payment on October 14 2019, the lease document indicates that he was given the approval to lease the land on July 1 2019—three-and-a-half months before he made the payment.