The Malawi government has written a strongly-worded protest letter to the Editor-In-Chief for Times Newspapers Limited, and copied it to the Chief Executive Officer, Independent Press Standards Organisation in London, accusing the Times of London of publishing falsehoods against President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera.
Director of Information Chikumbutso Mtumodzi has confirmed the authenticity of the letter whose copy Nyasa Times has. The letter has been signed by Minister of Information and Government Spokesperson, Gospel Kazako.
“I can confirm the Minister has written the letter. The Times of London, in its Monday edition showed blatant disrespect for our Head of State and our sovereignty as a nation state,” said Mtumodzi in an interview on Wednesday in Lilongwe.
The letter Ref. No. INF/ADM/04/01, dated July 28, 2021 and is captioned “Retraction of an article titled ‘Malawi’s leader blames it on the broadband as he flies entourage to Britain for video summit’; The Times; Monday, July 26, 2021”.
Kazako says the Government of Malawi has written the letter following a Times article, “which insinuated that the State President of the Republic of Malawi, His Excellency Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera had travelled to the United Kingdom to attend a virtual meeting due to poor internet connectivity in Malawi”.
According to the minister, the fact of the matter is that the Malawi President is attending the Global Education Summit financed by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) slated for July 28-29, 2021 upon the invitation by the Summit Co-chairs, Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.
Other leaders from other African countries such Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone are also attending the Summit together with Malawi’s President, according to Kazako.
“It is sad that The Times took the wrong avenue and published a fictitious story, sourcing information from Social Media, which is the epicentre of gossip and political slurs. (The) Malawi Government demands an apology and outright retraction of the malignant story alongside a total withdrawal of the story from all Times platforms,” reads the letter.
It is not yet to be seen whether the respected Times will take cognizance of the letter after all, it had already revised its article heading on its online version.
The spokesperson says the government is offended and takes this as an attack on the whole nation “because the facts are bare and can easily be verified with organisers of the Summit.
“We are forced to assume that your publication is now geared at creating a communication melee which we suspect is attempting to isolate Africa from the global village.
“The Times may wish to note that GPE is the largest global multilateral fund dedicated to education in developing countries which aims at strengthening education systems in developing countries to increase the number of children accessing education. Malawi is one of the developing countries that has been supported by GPE since 2010.
“It is my hope that Times will accord my communication, on behalf of the Government of Malawi, the attention it deserves considering the unnecessary confusion this reportage by Times has created,” concludes the letter.
In the said edition, The Times reported that President Chakwera had “flown 7,000 miles with a ten-strong entourage to attend an online conference being chaired from London, claiming that his country’s erratic internet makes it impossible to work from home”.
It is a fact that Malawi experiences not just exorbitant internet costs but poor quality that at times is erratic due to outages and lack of capacity leading to congestion.
The newspaper also claimed that President Chakwera landed in London “with a delegation that included his wife, daughter and son-in-law” for the summit.
President Chakwera has himself defended the inclusion of the ‘relatives’, explaining “they are Malawians that are doing something along with me on this trip and that they are just as valuable”.
“Each one of them have specific functions and the specific functions are such that for me to be able to attend a meeting like this, I need their services,” President Chakwera said during a BBC HARDtalk interview on Wednesday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :