President Arthur Peter Mutharika told a news conference in Blantyre on Monday on his recent US trip that Malawi’s popular online publication, Nyasa Times is “obsessed with him”, claiming there are always negative stories about him on the news site.
After taking a jibe at Nyasa Times recently from Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York where he was attending the 68th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, President Mutharika took another jibe at the online publication this time from very close quarters—at a vantage point, from the top hills of Sanjika Palace.
President Mutharika singled out Nyasa Times as a publication that pedals malicious falsehoods about him, citing a recent report where the publication reported about his alleged extravagance whilst in New York.
Nyasa Times had reported that the President was lodging in a region of US$17,000 Presidential suite at the historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, New York City. It was also reported that he had sojourned to New York with a larger than life entourage of 68 people.
But in an attempt to clarify matters, Mutharika reiterated that he only took a delegation of 20 people “from State House” who he said included his secretary and “security”.
He did not dispute allegations that in the entourage there were also a brother and wife of his personal assistant, Ben Phiri, fully sponsored by the taxpayer.
President Mutharika, however, said if there were other delegates counted as part of his entourage, it was merely for purposes of accreditation under UN procedures. He also said Foreign Affairs Ministry officials were sponsored by the UN.
“The figure could have been inflated (68 people) by the UN accreditation procedures, which record delegates from a country as a single ‘group’ despite that the people may have found themselves in New York on different sponsorships and objectives,” claimed Mutharika.
He also repeated his denial that he was booked in one of the most expensive presidential suites at Waldorf Astoria, enjoying top-notch largesse, when average Malawians back home are floating in painful economic doldrums.
Mutharika said he was on the 13th floor in a suite that had a tiny kitchen, “which could not accommodate my two cooks and a waiter” and that important meetings that he had there were held in “my bedroom”.
He said to the contrary, it was Barack Obama, the US President who was staying in the most expensive suite at US$18,000 per night.
Mutharika said that as an individual, he is not perturbed by the reports but questioned the patriotism of Nyasa Times for writing the stories.
He said the reports do not hamper him as an individual but hamper “the good work that we are doing to improve the lives of Malawians”.
Said Mutharika: “I met one of our bilateral partners who I will not mention; a very important one. He hailed and praised me for the good work I am doing, especially on the steps to reduce government expenditure such as appointing a lean cabinet. But he expressed worry that I was lodging in a Presidential Suite, which costs government $17,000 a night, something which was not true. This is sad.”
During the entire news conference, however, President Mutharika could not produce any documentary evidence whatsoever to discredit Nyasa Times reports except for the word of mouth.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :