Four editors of Times Media Group which owns several newspaper titles in Malawi and a television station have donated to Chritian Organisation of Oprhans in Malawi the cash they received from Malawi President Peter Mutharika in what is widely criticised as a bribe to silence the Malawi journalists from playing their watchdog role.
Mutharika gave envelopes containing K50,000 ($125) to over 80 journalists from various media houses across the country – some even receiving more depending on their status– during a dinner he organized for the media practitioners at hilltop Sanjika Palace in Blantyre last Tuesday.
The editors; Gracian Tukula who is head of news for Times TV, Innocent Chitosi editor for Malawi New, MacDonald Bamusi editor for Sunday Times and Brian Ligomeka Managing Editor for the Times Group used the money to buying assorted items which they donated to an orphanage on Tuesday (a week later).
In as story monitored on Times TV news cast on Tuesday which was anchored by former State House press officer Brian Banda, Ligomeka said they initially decided to return the money to the President but reversed the decision.
“We thought it wise to instead emulate the gesture shown by the President by giving us huge sums of money to also donate it to the needy,” said Ligomeka.
Reports also show that editor for the Nation Publications Limited a rival media house to Times group George Kasakula was the only journalist who returned the money to the presidential press officer Fredrick Ndala soon after opening the envelope and realised there was cash.
The BBC Malawi correspondent Raphael Tenthani has described the Sanjika saga as “the most stupid way to bribe people.”
Tenthani said he and few others journalists have committed the money for a charity towards the health bill for former Malawi News editor Limbani Moya who is currently in India to undergo kidney transplant.
Alaudin Osman, editor in-chief for the privately owned Capital Radio which he owns, was the first one to sound an alarm through a story aired on his radio a day after he also pocketed the money.
Few days later Tukula, wrote on his Sunday Times column that he was failing to gauge the meaning of the money from the president.
Mutharika, through government spokesman Kondwani Nankhumwa, duped the unsuspecting journalists by saying that the envelopes contained the president’s plans for the media.
However, many journalists who received the money have used it without complaining.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :