More scandalous revelations are coming out on the K50,000 that Malawi President Arthur Peter Mutharika dished out to media representative during their recent visit to State House with the latest being that the money came from the country’s National Aids Commission (NAC).
NAC is a government institution that is mandated to fight HIV and Aids and is funded by the Global Fund on the Fight Against HIV and Aids and Tuberculosis.
According to information that Nyasa Times has, NAC released funds amounting to K12 million directly to State House following a proposal that the organisation should help the President with money for the media interface.
NAC sources disclosed that the proposal indicated that among several issues to be discussed during the meeting were measures that would help to rope in the media on the national HIV and Aids fighting campaign and also fight the scourge amongst the journalists through the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter and the Media Council of Malawi.
“This proposal came from Ministry of Information. Although the money was released it was clear that the proposal did not make much sense but management decided to release the funding,” said a source.
NAC which was recently forced to refund some money to Global Fund was again recently caught in a scandal when it released huge sums of money to First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi Trust and the Mulhakho wa Lhomwe to fund activities which are not HIV and Aids related.
Just this week there have also been revelation that the President actually authorized K150,000 to be given to each journalist on the night and not the K50,000 that were given out.
The revelation has since sent heads rolling at State House as the President is keen to know what happened to the almost K8 milion which was left after only a total of K4 million was dished out.
Initially, the K50,000 handouts were tucked under the sleeves even to the journalists who got the money until Times TV Head of News and Current Affairs Gracian Tukula wrote about it in his weekly column thereby attracting an outcry from both the media fraternity and members of the public.
Most commentators have argued on the impact of the money on whether journalists will remain objective when handling issues to do with government, State House and the President.
Some have even described the money as bribery to journalists with the President wanting to corrupt the minds of journalists in the country.
In response to the outbursts Times Group editors on Tuesday this week used the money to buy assorted items which they donated to Christian Organisation of Orphans in Malawi.
The Times Group team comprised of Times Group Managing Editor Brian Ligomeka, Malawi News Editor Innocent Chitosi, Sunday Times Editor McDonald Bamusi and Tukula. The items included sugar, salt, soap, notebooks and other writing materials to the orphanage that has close to 300 orphans.
“After getting the money we felt that the needy children and the orphans deserve such support more than journalists. For those who travelled from Lilongwe and Mzuzu, it is obvious they used the money for accommodation and transport, but some of us we did not need that support.
“It is against this background that we [based in Blantyre] decided to give to charity the allowances. As editors of Times Group we thought it wise to support orphans belonging to a care centre in Chiradzulu which is run by a religious grouping,” said Ligomeka.
However, it has also been revealed that journalists from outside Blantyre got the K50,000s on top of their normal allowances for accommodation, transport and food as promised by State House when the journalists were being invited.
Ligomeka could not be drawn to comment on whether using the money for donation was because their conscious was affected with the money and the way it was given to them saying they just felt they had to extend Mutharika’s gesture to others, who deserve such support.
According to Tukula in his column Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa had told the journalists that the envelopes contained some booklets on Mutharika’s commitment to press freedom but most of the journalists were surprised that when they opened the package there was no booklet but wards of K500s amounting to K50,000.
Nation Publications Limited Editor George Kasakula who was among those who received the money is reported to have returned the money to one of the presidential aides right at the State House as soon as he got the package.
Ligomeka said the meeting with the President was fruitful as the media and the President discussed pertinent issues affecting democracy, governance, the economy and the media industry.
“We wholeheartedly commend the State President for recognising and appreciating the role which the media play in society, including informing, educating and entertaining our audiences and views, besides playing the crucial watchdog role of being the monitor of those in authority in both public and even private sector,” said Ligomeka.
According to the journalists, nobody explained what the money was for.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :