President Peter Mutharika’s spokesperson, Gerald Viola, has dismissed the letter published by Nyasa Times on Friday as ‘partly manipulated’ saying the letter was tampered with by Galaxy FM management who inserted his current position as Presidential Press Secretary.
The letter that asks government departments and agencies to advertise on Galaxy FM Radio which belongs to the late President Bing wa Mutharika, the brother to the current Malawi head of state Peter Mutharika, dated July 13, 2015 has a government letterhead and is addressed to ‘whom it may concern’.
On the top left corner, there is a Galaxy FM Business Manager’s card (Temwa Msyalie), which partially obliterates the Malawi Government letterhead save for the insignia; but the rest of the letter is clearly legible saying:
“This communication serves to plead with your department to make good relations in business where necessary with Galaxy FM. The radio station would like to get adverts from you whenever you feel advertising some of your products.”
Handwritten on the letter on the right hand top corner are a Public Relations Officer’s instructions: “Take note and deal,” and signed July 28, 2015.
Galaxy Radio Station is owned by the Mutharika family with Duwa and Madalitso Mutharika listed as its directors.
Viola, in an interview with the Malawi News confirmed authoring the letter, but denied abusing his official powers and conducting himself in the manner that unduly rewards Galaxy Radio at the expense of other broadcasters.
“Of course, I wrote that letter but it was in June 2014 when I was holding the position of Director of Information. At that particular time Galaxy, just like any other media house, came with their business profile and we were only doing introductions for them. The letter I wrote at that time was signed but the one now in circulation was edited at Galaxy, I guess because we advised them to wait until the current financial year,” he said.
Viola, who was promoted from Director of Information to his current position of Presidential Press Secretary early this year, added that the letter was only acting as a plea other than giving orders to any government ministry or department.
When asked if it is common practice to write such ‘introductory’ letters for media organisations who have expressed interest to do business with government, Viola failed to give a convincing response.
He however blamed Galaxy Radio for ‘altering’ the letter, which tantamount to forgery, a crime under the Chapter XXXV of the Laws of Malawi Sections 351(ff).
Viola fell short of stating his next course of action against Galaxy FM for “altering” his original letter.
Conventional forgery under Section 356 Penal Code carries a penalty of 3 years and forgery of official documents – like the one in question – carries apenalty of up to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL)under Section 358.
When contacted for comment Galaxy Radio Station Manager, Alfred Banda, expressly said the forgery allegation is false and unfounded.
Banda said Viola should not find escape goat but ownhis own mistakes.
Viola was once a broadcaster for Galaxy Radio where he was instrumental in campaigning for the Democratic Progress Party (DPP) through various programmes aired at the radio station apart and live outside broadcasts covering the campaign of President Peter Mutharika.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :