Ntaba grilled on Mutharika’s wealth, First Lady Salary

Presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba was taken to task by Capital Radio’s probing journalist Brian Banda during Straight Talk programme aired on Tuesday to explain First Lady Callista Mutharika’s salary and President Bingu wa Mutharika’s wealth.

Ntaba explained that the First Lady is not being paid for doing charity work.

She entered into a three-year contract with government as National Coordinator for Safe Motherhood on a salary of  K1,138,000 (slightly over US$7,500) a month.

Madam Mutharika’s hefty salaries and perks was among the issues the Civil Society Organization (CSO) wants the president to address as they say there is no any basis for someone to be on the pay roll for doing charity work.

Bingu and Callista Mutharika

Both wives of former president Bakili Muluzi, Annie and Shanil, as well as Mutharika’s first wife the late Ethel were not being paid when they were doing their various charity chores.

But Ntaba insisted Callista Mutharika was not being paid for charity work.

“The work that she is doing is not charity work. You think she is doing charity work but there are people who think she is not doing charity work,” said Ntaba. “There is an appropriate contract.”

Ntaba added: “The president is mandated to appoint anybody to any contractual job and she is fulfilling contractual obligation.”

Presenter Banda asked why President Mutharika is not responding to the civil society demands that he should explain how he has accumulated so much wealth overnight.

Ntaba was evasive when he was asked to comment where the President “got the money to build the Ndata mansion.”

He said the Presidential Dialogue Committee “will give an appropriate response” stressing that “the matter is under control and is being considered.”

Ntaba said he only give answers to what he is “authorised to speak on.”

President Mutharika has suddenly accumulated immense wealth that has seen him purchase Ndata Farm in Thyolo; a former Press Agriculture farm at Mitundu in Lilongwe, and several other farms in Kasungu and Mchinji.

He also acquired plots at Kameza in Blantyre, three Lilongwe City Assembly Houses even after Parliament forced government to stop the sale of the houses.

President Mutharika is also reported to have mansions in Australia, Portugal and Zimbabwe.

Former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara is on record saying Malawians have a right to question Mutharika on how he has amassed his wealth and that despite the Head of State enjoying immunity from prosecution, there can be a prelude to a legal process in relation to his wealth.

Mutharika’s actual worth remains a mystery.

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