Malawi under fire over PR deal with US firm: K120mil paid to prop up Mutharika’s image, Catholic Commission criticises

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), a governance arm of the influential Catholuc Church, has fauled Malawi government over the secrecy behind a deal offered to United States public relations firm to prop up President Peter Mutharika’s image and clean up reputations his governments.

Goodall : No much benefit in reputation upgrade for Mutharika
Goodall : No much benefit in reputation upgrade for Mutharika

The press revealed that Malawi goverment hired US-based education policy organisation, Nelson Mullins, to boost Mutharika’s  image in the eyes of the international community but has since cancelled the contract after paying $150 000 (K120 million).

CCJP national coordinator Martin Chiphwanya criticised the  secret contract.

It has emerged that the Mutharika government  secretely paid  $150 000 (K120 million) to the US firm whem George Chaponda was Foreign Affairs Minister and facilitated  the deal.

But Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe  said at the contract worth $30 000 (about K23 million) a month has been cancelled after paying $150 000 because government was not satisfied with the work.

CCJP national coordinator Martin Chiphwanya said the secrecy behind the deal defeats “ runs counter to principles of good governance.”

Chiphwanya is quoted in the Nation on Sunday which exposed the secret deat that: “In a democratic dispensation, government is supposed to be accountable to citizens for decisions taken at all levels. It really raises a lot of questions if at all due diligence assessment was undertaken in this case. Authorities owe the nation an explanation as to why the deal was cancelled a few months after being agreed upon.

“Financial leakages emanating from  unnecessary payouts due to breach of contract are a clear manifestation of poor administrative action. It would be appropriate that necessary measures be taken on those that may have contributed to the situation our country finds itself in. In any case, this is taxpayers’ money and we need to jealously safeguard the public purse by demanding answers from authorities on issues of this nature.

“It is disheartening to note that cases of this nature continue to hit headlines. Our ailing economy cannot absorb such unnecessary payments. There is need for proper scrutiny of all contracts that government enters into with other entities before putting pen to paper to avoid being caught up in situations like these.”

Finance Minister Gondwe, who signed the contract on behalf of the Mutharika administration, admitted the contract had nothing much to benefit the taxpayer in Malawi who funded it without scrutiny from parliament.

The Nation on Sunday gave details of the contract signed in 2015 between government and the US-based firm, Nelson Mullins.

It reported that among others,  the US firm was contracted to introduce the President “throughout the Halls of Congress to the Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen that are most important to influencing policies favourable to Malawi; work to create a positive image for Malawi with the United States Government from both the Legislative and Executive branches; and also strive to help the donor community understand President Mutharika.

The firm was also going to aid Mutharika’s image in his anti-corruption crusade; helping him put his vision of establishing community and technical colleges around the country as well as developing a strong educational system starting at the primary level; exploring areas in which trade export can be increased and security.

The firm also set to seek to bring back to Malawi donor and US assistance, and ensure that Malawi’s borders are secure in view of oil exploration taking place on Lake Malawi.

“The issues of security of Malawi’s borders are paramount. The issue with Tanzania is a growing concern. Now that oil has been found under Lake Malawi, Tanzania wants to challenge the border placement. Nelson Mullins will make this point to the appropriate people within the Administration and on Capitol Hill while seeking US help in securing the Malawi borders,” reads part of the contract.

“Nelson Mullins will monitor national and international stories concerning the reputation and perception of Malawi. Additionally, we will push out the positive stories to various agencies to strategically create a perception that shows Malawi is changing and can become an example that the rest of Africa can follow. Malawi will be seen as a leader in change, progressive and transparent with the new President’s leadership,” further reads the contract.


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Weni Weni
Weni Weni
5 years ago

It is naive in the age of democratisation of the media to pay such huge amounts to clean up an image on indeed advertise anything at all. This is why we need to train our young people in maximising the use of the internet and the cheap options it offers to among other things market say our tourist attractions. Look at how Donald Trump, who by the way is not a young man, used the social media to his advantage, while Hillary spent millions in native advertising. I am aware though that the extent to which you use the internet… Read more »

Mika Kumbire
Mika Kumbire
5 years ago

Image and perceptions are very critical for the advancement of the nation. Rwanda has a very good reputation despite having a terrible human rights record. In Malawi we lack creativity and we seem to rejoice when a negative image is being portrayed about our beautiful country

5 years ago
Reply to  Mika Kumbire

@Mike Kumbire: Image and perception can never be bought! Take this, “acts of good governance” usually talk on their own. Once government starts promoting good governance, that will easily be seen by everybody and hence does not need a PR firm. DPP ikutayilanji nthawi kuchemelera zinthu zomwe aliyense akuona kuti ndizoipa!! Kodi akumaganiza kuti chifukwa alipira ku US-based education policy organisation, Nelson Mullins – basi ndiye kuti zonse zonyansa zimene akuchitazi ziyamba kuoneka zabwino? Seriously, uchitsiru siumaposa apa! In 2013 Joyce Banda’s (PP) government did the same, and one Social-political activist Ben Chiza Mkandawire once told her (Joyce Banda’s (PP)… Read more »

chimzimu Chonyasa
5 years ago

Stupid idea! How can we pay so much to paint try to conceal the ills that APM administration is causing to Malawians? We are the poorest but heavily taxed and yet political leaders live in isolation of all this!

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