Malawi newspaper gaint BNL suspends editor over Nyasa Times story

Malawi’s media giant Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) has suspended its Editor for The Sunday Times Idriss Ali Nassah after suspecting him that he is a source for online publication Nyasa Times.

Nassah is accused of being a source to a Nyasa Times exclusive story that we reported two weeks ago that BNL’s parent company Blantyre Printing & Publishing (BP&P) Chairman Francis Pelekamoyo refused to fire BP&P Managing Director Leonard Chikadya because he was a friend and that he was prepared to step down as chairman.

The story did not go well with BNL General Manager Tikhala Chibwana, who is said to have pressurised Company Secretary Innocent Kalua to suspend Nassah for ‘leaking’ the story to Nyasa Times.

Dr Tikhala Chibwana: Gulf in BNL newsroom

Since last week Nassah has not been writing his hard hitting column in the  Sunday Times and Deputy Editor Felix Mponda is in charge of the paper.

“People are now living in fear here because if you are not in good books with Tikhala or Brian Ligomeka (BNL Managing Editor) then you are a suspect for anything,” said one of the journalists at BNL.

However Nyasa Times editorial directors said they did not get the story from Nassah and that he has no links to the publication.

Nassah and Chibwana have not been seeing eye to eye after Nassah earlier resigned from BNL and joined Plan Malawi.

Chibwana is said to have not ‘fought’ to keep Nassah at BNL when he resigned. This did not please Chikadya who started ‘talking’ to Nassah just soon after his resignation and  lured him back to BNL where he gave him perks he was demanding.

It is reported that Chibwana was angry that he was not involved in the decision to bring back the journalist and ever since Nassah’s return, Chibwana has been looking for an opportunity to get rid of him, further putting a strain on his relationship with Chikadya, which insiders say is not cordial.

Earlier, editorial boss at BNL is reported to have created fake email which were said to be reports sent to Nyasa Times by Business Times Editor Thom Khanje that the company may have been swindled by a middleman in its deal to purchase a news web machine. The scheme was to remove Khanje.

BNL refuted Nyasa Times story and said the agreed delivery of the machine as per contract is August, 2012. By October 6 the machine had not been delivered.

The  BNL management has been using Nyasa Times as a scrap goat for firing their reporters and editors.

“The problems being faced by BNL have come because of Chibwana and his management style. He wants to be surrounded by ‘yes’ men, he does not tolerate criticism and that is why he is failing to get fine journalists to compete with The Nation,” said an insider.

Chibwana is said to have been boasting to his friends that he is more capable of running the media giant because of his PhD degree.

Meanwhile, Chibwana is said to have offered disgraced former MBC Director General Bright Malopa a consultancy to see how they can compete favourably with The Nation.

Insiders said BNL will now recruit journalists who were working for the now defunct Sky News on former ruling DPP southern region governor Noel Masangwi after getting rid of those deemed to be in bad books with Chibwana.

“They have already recruited Akwete Sande as a Sub Editor and the next thing you know is that Akwete will be Editor of one of the five papers. They are also trying to get on board Gedion Munthali who was at Sky News,” said a source.

Sources told Nyasa Times that Malopa, working with BNL’s Chibwana and Ligomeka to help “rebrand DPP” and on the compnay’s television plans.

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