Malawi government on Thursday released a scatching statament to dismiss assertions that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government is scheming to snatch Press Corporation Limited (PCL) away from other shareholders by imposing DPP gurus on PCL and Press Trust Boards and went to town accusing PCL led by Mathews Chikaonda of destroying the corporation.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Jappie Mhango, said in a statement dated March 17, 2016, seen by Nyasa Times that Chikaonda “completely destroying the intending character of PCL.”
Mhango, who is government spokesman, was responding to Malawi News reports that accused DPP of trying to hold firm control of PCL to use it as bankrolling entity for their party campaign.
But government spokesman dismissed the claims, saying some top senior PCL members want to tarnish the image of government and the DPP through “baseless allegations whilst trying to mask the rot at PCL”.
Mhango statement blasted out going PCL boss Chikaonda of destroying the conglomerate.
The statement also said the Board of Press Trust had mostly comprised of more Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members than any other party.
“Currently, the Trustees include the MCP Treasurer General, Mr Tony Kandiero and Honourable Nancy Tembo, who is a former MCP Parliamentarian, as well as an MCP nominee on the Malawi Electoral Commission. Also on this Board are Dr. George Kayambo and Mrs Chioko who are certainly not DPP Sympathisers.
“The remaining Press Trustees, who are far from being DPP sympathisers, appointed their replacements i.e. Mr Chisanga and Mr Chirwa, under the same law, the same Board of Trustee appointed Mr Chidyaonga and Prof Peter Mwanza to PCL Board.”
Mhango said if it was a matter of questioning appointments, people should start with the appointment of Chikaonda as the Group Chief Executive (GCE) 14 years ago who the minister said never went through Board interviews nor proper legal channels.
The minister said Chikaonda was handpicked by the then President and imposed on the Board as the GCE of PCL despite serious reservations from Press Trustees at that time.
The Government Spokesperson then highlighted some of the major finance manoeuvres that have taken place under the leadership of the GCE who is reportedly still fighting for extension of his contract.
Mhango observed that Chikaonda reign he closed eleven Press Companies, failed to replace the closed companies with new and more vibrant companies, and that out of the current units of the PCL had only five were operating smoothly while six had challenges and some technically insolvent.
“The revelations of this information have compelled government as a majority share holder to seek some information from PCL Management,” said Mhango.
“This was done in a letter from the Attorney General, through the CEO of Press Trust…it is now six months after this response was sent but no response has come… we want to know why all these companies were sold and how so many new proposed companies failed.”
Government has since demanded an urgent shareholders meeting to assess the extent of the mismanagement at PCL and start taking remedial measures, according to Mhango.
But PCL spokesperson Chisomo Macholowe said the Press Trust does no own PCL and that “government cannot call a stakeholders meeting as it claimed in its statement.”
Macholowe also defended Chikaonda from government’s smear and said the closure of some companies had “ good reasons” for such decisions.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :