Malawian President Professor Peter Mutharika has accused his predecessor, Joyce Banda of being responsible for his negative publicity, saying she was paying Malawi journalists to write bad stories about his government.
The President was speaking at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe Thursday on upon his arrival from the 40th anniversary of Mozambique’s independence celebrations.
Mutharika also expressed regret over Banda’s conduct during last year’s Tripartite Elections when she tried to annul Mutharika’s controversial victory. She called for a re-election, saying the election had been marred by widespread fraud.
Banda, he first serving Malawian president to lose an election, however, accepted defeat after the High Court ordered the release of the results.
The Malawi leader also bemoaned that Banda shunned his inauguration ceremony and rejected an “olive branch” he had offered her.
Mutharika said was impressed with the relationship the current Mozambican President, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi has with former Heads of States, Armando Emilio Guebuza and Joaquim Chissano and, wished the situation is similar in Malawi.
”The three of them (Nyusi, Guebuza and Chissano) were on the same table and seemed to be happy being there together. That’s what is lacking in this country,” said Mutharika.
He added: ”Here (Malawi) there is no cordial relationship among the (political) leaders; you see a predecessor refusing to handover power, paying the media to write bad stories about their successor”.
Mutharika called for unity among political leaders and prayed for Malawi to borrow a leaf from Mozambique in regards to peace and unity.
”We need to learn from Mozambique. In this country there is too much individualism and envy. We need to get rid of that if we are to develop”.
Banda ‘s spokesman could not immediately comment on the comments by Mutharika.
But the Malawi leader came under fire last December for giving envelopes containing $125 to more than 80 media people at a dinner he hosted in Blantyre.
In his column in the Nyasa Times, Malawi professor of law Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa said what President Mutharika did by giving money handouts to journalists at a news event was tantamount to bribery.
Local civil society groups said that “by attempting to bribe the journalists” Mutharika subjected his leadership style to disrepute.
Some journalists donated the money to charity.
And this week, a lawmaker Peter Chakwantha accused the Mutharika government of trying to bribe some journalists not to do probing stories to the K92 billion ‘DPP-era cashgate.’
Maclan Kanyang’wa, who heads the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the Polytechnic College of the University of Malawi, said a media code of ethics bars journalists from accepting payment on a story.—Additional reporting by Green Muheya, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :