Media practitioners’ regulator in the country, The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter Chairperson Teresa Ndanga has warned controversial National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Helen Buluma to stop gagging reporters from writing about her escapades.
Ndanga has issued a stern warning to Buluma that Misa Malawi will not stand aside and watch Buluma bullying the media.
“She is a public officer and therefore open to public scrutiny. Journalists have a noble duty to inform the public on what’s going on. The money she is using is taxpayers’ money and the public have the right to know,” she said.
According to reports, Buluma is said to have called a reporter from The Nation Newspaper threatening him to stop writing a story about her for allegedly using taxpayers’ money for her personal security services which give rise to abuse of office by a public officer.
Through her bloated security, Buluma, a former ruling party, DPP political stooge, is draining K3.9 million of taxpayers’ money every month to pay for five police officers and their three guns.
Since the news break up, Buluma has been accused of calling the reporter to stop writing the story and that some security agents have been forcing the reporter to reveal sources.
“We know that the deputy CEO has been calling the reporter to stop him from writing the story.
“She works in the public sector and, therefore, she must be accountable to the people and the journalists can write a story about any public officer and they should not be attacking the journalists instead they must do what is right.
“The Access to Information Act protects journalists from revealing their sources. They, therefore, cannot be pushing a journalist to reveal sources. The same law protects whistleblowers.
“Nocma is a public institution, it is supposed to be accountable to the public. All they should do is justify the spending if it is necessary,” said Ndanga in an interview.
Meanwhile, Buluma has since suspended three officials on suspicion that they leaked information which exposed the bloated security detail.
The suspended officials are security officer Peter Chilenje, financial accountant Mavuto Ndalahoma and office assistant Paul Lapozo.
Just a few days ago, The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) also wrote the Ombudsman to investigate Buluma.
HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence said the reports if proved to be true to be tantamount to abuse of office by a public Officer.
“The NOCMA Deputy is allegedly reported to be using taxpayers’ money in paying for the services. HRDC finds the reports if proved to be true to be tantamount to abuse of office by a public officer.
“HRDC therefore requesting your good office to probe this allegation to its logical conclusion as a matter of urgency. Reports of abuse of office is a serious offence, especially when hard earned taxpayer’s money is at the center of it all. HRDC and well-meaning Malawians are looking forward to see your office carrying out investigations to get to the bottom of this matter,” reads part of the letter
Police confirmed that Nocma—a State-owned company set up with taxpayers’ money—requested to hire their services that include four police officers with two guns to guard Buluma’s residence and a gun-toting close protection officer (CPO) to babysit her daily.
Of this amount, K3.9 million is for Buluma’s personal security detail broken down as follows:
K2.4 million for four police officers guarding her residence, with each officer getting K20 000 per day for 30 days;
K600 000 service charge for two guns calculated at K10 000 each for 30 days; K600 000 for her CPO for 30 days charged at K20 000 a day; K300 000 as service charge for CPO’s gun at K10 000 per day for 30 days.
Other Nocma police security payments for June included K800 000 as allowance for officers guarding Lilongwe depot; K600 0000 for officers guarding Blantyre depot and the same amount for Mzuzu depot. There was also K1.7 million payments for police manning Nocma headquarters in Lilongwe, according to the loose minute.
In a payment voucher Ref. No: Nocma/NBM/2021/188, dated July 5 2021, Nocma processed the payment from its current account number 1000279761 to Police Mobile Headquarters Services Welfare Account 5460000003331 at Ecobank.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :