Malawi President Joyce Banda has rejected a move to start printing new portraits for her to accommodate her new doctorate title, to save the struggling southern African country millions of money.
South Korea’s University of Jeonju awarded Banda an honorary doctorate degree in economics.
The initial portrait of President Banda has a ‘Mrs’ on its title; however, Ministry of Information = announced earlier this month that the government intends to replace thousands of portraits with those bearing the new title of ‘Dr’.
But Nyasa Times sources say President Banda rejected the move, saying it was not in sync with her austerity measures.
Government insiders said the President has not by her mouth or by her hand or indeed through any individual or any office, public or private, demanded, suggested or implied directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly that her official portraits be changed.
Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu confirmed that it is not in the interest of President Banda to print new portraits, saying she believes that spending taxpayers’ money just to replace the prefix to her name on a piece of paper, not only at this time but even at any other time, is “irresponsible, unmerited and unwise.”
Kunkuyu assured that “the current official portrait of the President will not be changed.”
Presidential portraits have been a thorny issue in Malawi. Former president late Bingu wa Mutharika spent millions of Kwacha to change his portrait bearing the title ‘Dr’ to accommodate ‘professor’ soon after a Chinese University recognised him.
Mutharika also caused government to spend public resources to review his portrait after he resigned from UDF in February 2005 and formed his DPP.
The late President took the view that it was worthy spending taxpayers’ money simply to replace a yellow background in the portrait with a blue one, and likewise replacing a necktie with yellow and black strips and a yellow towel with a blue tie as well as a blue towel.