Multichoice, ATEM disagree over Van Vicker’s cheque donation

Disagreements have emerged between Multichoice Malawi Marketing Manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda and the Association of Teaching English in Malawi (ATEM) over a cheque mounting to K500,000 Nigerian actor Van Vicker donated to the association.

Van Vicker who was in the country last month on a three-day visit courtesy of Multichoice Malawi and First Merchant Bank (FMB) donated the money under his charity organization, Van Vicker Foundation to assist ATEM drama competitions, which are contested by secondary school drama groups across the country annually.

The cheque was presented to ATEM at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe on 28 April. And in an interview with Nyasa TimesATEM President Fanuel Mapira accused  for playing hide and seek on the issue and that he was currently avoiding calls from any ATEM official.

Nyirenda:Multichoice marketing boss

“After Van Vicker presented us with the cheque I was approached by a certain lady, an FMB employee who asked me to handover the cheque for safe keeping, and I thought maybe they wanted to have another function for proper handover but when I followed it up I was told it is in the hands of Mr. Nyirenda.

“And when contacted Mr. Nyirenda asked us to provide him with a quotation and I didn’t understand what he meant, and he later told me to wait for he will come back to me on how we can access the cheque. Two days later I called him he told me they have instructed FMB to open an account for us so that we bank the cheuqe,” Mapira explained.

Mapira said when he crosschecked the issue with FMB was told the cheque was still in the hands of Nyirenda and that he was the one handling the issue.

He said when he took up the matter with Multichoice Makerting Manager for central region Titania Kaunda was told to deal with the head office where he had to face Nyirenda again.

“I tried to use our secretary Mr. Jere to talk Mr. Nyirenda and after several phone call attempts, he managed to talk him only to be shouted at and Mr. Jere told me later that based on how Mr. Nyirenda talked to him it was doubtful if we will be given the money. And right now he is avoiding all our calls,” Mapira said.

However, Nyirenda in an interview dismissed the accusations, saying his office decided to withhold the cheque after noting that ATEM officials wanted to use the money for other purposes other than what was agreed.

“When Van Vicker came we asked him to make a donation to any charitable work of his choice and he chose to support the development of actors and actress in the country. And it was me personally who suggested ATEM as beneficiary for the donation. W contacted ATEM officials who gave us a budget of K1 million pus but we told them we will only provide half of the budget which is K500,000 and that the other part they should find sponsors.

“Surprisingly, ever since the donation was made they have been asking me to give them the money but I declined after noting that they wanted to use the money for other purposes that will not benefit the intended beneficiaries which is in this are actors,” Nyirenda explained.

He said his office was withholding the cheque and that it will only be released for ATEM activities that befit the purpose of the donation.

“We told them that we will only release the money for the activities we outlined to them such as booking of venue for ATEM finals and paying prize money for winning schools and actors. As of now we have already paid K80,000 for the venue at Institute of Sports in Lilongwe and the remaining K420,000 will be given out this coming Saturday as prizes to winners during the finals in Lilongwe.

“My office could not release the money after we noted that ATEM officials wanted to use the money for other things like paying allowances of teachers and accommodation, which has nothing to do with the development of actors and actresses as Van Vicker wanted,” Nyirenda added.

But Mapira insisted the cheque was supposed to be given to them and Multichoice was only supposed to wait for account reconciliation report after the ATEM national finals.

ATEM is expected to stage its 2011 national secondary school drama festival over the weekend in Lilongwe.

“We feel we are the ones who were supposed to handle the transactions not Multichoice or Mr. Nyirenda. We feel being cheated and something is not right somewhere,” Mapira insisted.

During the cheque presentation, Van Vicker stressed that the cheque was original and open therefore ATEM could cash at any time.

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