Friday, December 19, 2008




WE have read about the ‘war of words’ between Lawrence Masha, the Minister for Home Affairs and media mogul—Reginald Mengi.

The bone of contention being Mengi’s cry that a certain young, cabinet minister wants to cripple his business by influencing the powers that be to cook up figures on tax evasion on Mengi’s companies as a move to destroy him—allegedly for his ‘loud mouthed’ media outlets.

It was alleged by Mengi last week that the said minister has sent several text messages to him threatening not only hurt his person, but his business empire also.

First of all, it is the constitutional right of every citizen to be protected by the state together with his/her property. Based on this right, anyone who feels that his life or property is threatened, s/he must report to the police.

Mengi reported the matter to the police. One would have expected them to take action not because Mengi is an important man, but because he is entitled to protection like any other citizen of this country.

Mengi gave clues to the police including the numbers of mobile phone through which the offending messages were sent. He claimed that the offender was a cabinet minister. What more could he have said?

The media narrowed the names of young ministers to three. They include William Ngeleja, Dr Diodorus Kamala and Lawrence Masha.

But it was Masha who responded to the charges saying Mengi must prove his allegations within seven days, or else he would have him sent to court!

We think this was an unfortunate statement made perhaps in the heat of the moment.

Mengi retorted that he was ready to do that but on condition that he, Masha offer to resign.

To us this hullabaloo does not benefit anyone, unless there is something more that is hidden from us.

First of all, we ordinary folks stand to lose if Mengi’s empire were to collapse (and God forbid) because we — the media are direct beneficiaries to the empire.

But in the same tone, we are stakeholders in the home security duties which fall under Masha’s charge. Thus we find ourselves in the middle of the tussle. But as human beings, we cannot stand on the fence and simply look.

Mengi had done the correct thing to report the matter to the police. We therefore, did not expect the Home Affairs minister to react the way he did.

In our opinion Masha should have perhaps only added weight to Mengi’s claim by instructing the Police to investigate the matter and establish the truth.

We think it was not proper for the minister to give Mengi an ultimatum to prove that he had been threatened as it is not the duty of the police to make the complainant prove that his life is threatened?

If, and it is a big if, the police acted that way whenever people sent reports to them, then it would make the whole system a mockery.

We think the minister’s intervention was unfortunate and uncalled for. Is it the onus of a citizen to prove that her/his life is being threatened? Or is it the duty of the police to follow clues given by the complainant to establish the truth? Why should Mengi be an exceptional?

It is the duty of the police to prosecute the complainant if proved that s/he gave false information. It should have rested there.

It is doubtful now whether this issue will come to the right conclusion because it has now been marred by political undertones.

But let’s face it, the media cannot stop from exposing those in power who collude with selfish economic saboteurs. They musty be exposed and hurt in the same manner as they inflict the pain on us as a community.

If there is any Government official who is sympathetic to bad elements, we shall collectively continue to expose them.