A British newspaper, The Times, which faulted President Peter Mutharika for allegedly residing in one of that country’s most luxurious hotels in Scotland during official visit which was paid by the host government alongside five other members of his entourage, has received angrily reaction from Malawian citizenry, commentators and State House.
The paper questioned the cost and nature of his “luxurious” trip – accommodated at Prestonfield Hotel in Edinburgh where the cost of a single suite for one night is up to £450 (about K450 000) – considering that about half Malawi’s population live below the poverty line.
“He leads a country that has some of the worst poverty in the world but Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika and his entourage have racked up a five-star hotel bill in Scotland large enough to feed hundreds of African children for a year,” reports the paper.
But a renowned governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali, told Nyasa Times, that President Mutharika was treated “unfairly” by the British newspaper report.
“Even if the UK government had decided not to sponsor his accomodation, he would have easily afforded the accomodation with his own personal money. The issue was blown out of proportion. Its important that as a nation we focused on real issues not trivia,” said Munthali.
London-based Malawian corporate manager, Rhodrick Junaid Kalumpha, took the task to write the Editor of UK Times newspaper sensational reporting.
“In the grand scheme of things, surely £450 (about K450 000) a night is not too much for a Head of State! Or did you want him to be put in a B&B in the back valleys of Glasgow where he could be at the mercy of drug addicts and criminals hence endangering his safety?
“Yes we are poor, but we deserve respect from the outside world, including your paper.Our President cannot be the subject of such denigrating articles just because he heads a poor country… and all those insults just because of £450 (about K450 000) a night? You owe our nation an apology,” Kalumpha told Times editor.
And writing on Facebooo, Kalumpha said the British newspaper “cannot insult our Presudent and expect us to keep quiet.’’
Many Malawians commenting on Nyasa Times, Facebook and dozens of tweets were appalled with the patronizing article.
Mutharika was on a week-long State visit to Scotland after attending the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in London. He returned home on April 28.
Presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani on Thursday issued a statement clarifying that the visit by Mutharika and his delegation had been funded by the UK Government as hosts of Commonwealth summit Scotland as the hosts of the official visit.
“President Mutharika was accommodated at the InterContinental hotel in London,” Kalilani informed. “Similarly, while on an official visit to Scotland, the host government, the Government of Scotland, identified, arranged and paid for the hotel expenses for the President. In Scotland, the host Government decided to accommodate President Mutharika at the Prestonfield House in Edinburgh.”
The Scottish Government – which gives Malawi £2.7m (about K2.7 billion) to each year as part of its overseas aid budget – said it was a standard practice for it to host a visiting head of State and their presidential party for their official programme.
Kalilani said State House is therefore “surprised” that , some newspapers both local and international have decided to accuse President Muthariks of being lavish “and made him and the people of Malawi the subject of insults and denigration.”
State House is calling upon all media houses in the country to avoid “copy-pasting” reports from international media publications without doing own research about the issues being reported.
“The local media should stay steadfast against international tabloids that are bent on hate-reporting and denigrating the image of Africa and its leaders for imperialistic reasons,” said Kalilani.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :