Malawi leader whinges about newspaper column ‘Cut the Chaff’

For two weeks now some readers of Weekend Nation  newspaper especially those that love the column “Cut the Chaff” have been disappointed to see that the column is no longer appearing.

“The column is not there for two weeks now and there is no word from the paper why that development. I am a worried reader. I like the column so much,” said one ardent follower of the column which is written by Ephraim Munthali.

Another reader also expressed similar sentiments that she was disappointed that the column is not appearing and that there is no explanation from the paper.

President Banda: Larger picture

Nyasa Times understands that President Joyce Banda took to task chief editor of Nation Publication Limited,  Alfred Ntonga after one hard hitting entry “No picture could be smaller, Madam” published in the Weekend Nation’s  edition of August 25, 2012.

The column is said to have irritated President Banda who called Ntonga and expressed her disappointment and anger.  Ntonga reportedly pounced on the columnist who decided to stop the column as a solution to the president’s whinging.

In this particular column entry, Munthali challenged President Banda on her remarks that Malawians should look at the larger picture in her recent firings of public officers. Banda said the larger picture is that she was replacing the fired public officers with others from the same districts.

The President said this during the elevation of chief Mkanda of Mchinji to senior chief. This was a reaction to the attack from Malawi Law Society which hit the Head of State for the firings.

In the column, Munthali opens the argument: “So, the gospel according to President Joyce Banda is that as long as you can replace an illegally sacked public official with someone from the victim’s home district then the law must be damned.

“That, to say the least, is an interesting thread of presidential thought which Mrs. Banda apparently calls ‘the larger picture’ that all of us are supposed to look at, see and learn.

“Boy, this President must have a lot of spare time, scrutinizing resumes up to such minor details as a candidate’s district of origin.

“Why, argues a frustrated Banda, can’t her critics see this bigger picture? The answer is obvious really. There is nothing big to see. Everything in this reasoning is so small-minded that most of us have to see anything in her explanation….”

Some of the public officers Banda has fired are chief immigration officer Elvis Thodi who came from Mulanje, central bank governor Dr Perks Ligoya who comes from Thyolo, Admarc chief executive officer from Thyolo, director of State Residences Edward Sawerengera from Chiradzulu, Malawi Revenue Authority commissioner general Lloyd Muhara from Phalombe, Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito from Chiradzulu and Anti Corruption Bureau director Alex Nampota from Thyolo.

Unfortunately not all fired officers are not replaced by people from their home districts. For example Mukhito is replaced by Lot Dzonzi who comes from Kasungu.

Munthali ends the column: “I choose to give you the benefit of the doubt on this one, Your Excellency. I desperately want to believe you can figure this out on your own and pray that I am right.”

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