Beleaguered Presidential Press Secretary Gerald Viola whose job hangs in balance after he publicaly made controversial statements insinuating that President Peter Mutharika is not in control of government has challenged Minister of Information Jappie Mhango over is suspension as at State House, Nyasa Times can reveal.
According to State House officials, the development comes after President Mutharika officially wrote Viola stopping him from speaking on his behalf following the controversial statements.
Viola made the statements when he appeared on a televisions talk show on Times Television without the President’s consent.
The Presidential Press officer told the programme’s host Brian Banda that Mutharika is not aware of many strategic appointments made in his government and that there are people behind the scenes that are making important decisions without the President knowing.
The letter of suspension President Mutharika wrote Viola on Friday, 30 October, 2015 stopped him from conducting any activities that would be seen to be speaking on behalf of the President’s office and the State House in general. Nyasa Times has seen the letter.
Upon receipt of the letter , Viola telephoned Minister of Information, Mhango demanding clarification as to whether the letter meant he has been fired or not.
The suspended Press Officer told the Minister that he was under pressure from journalist to clarify whether he was still the Presidential Secretary or not following the letter.
In response the minister told Viola that he was not the right person to clarify contents of the letter since the letter did not originate from him.
The minister further reminded the suspended press secretary that he was not employed by the Ministry of Information but the State House; as such he needed to check with the State House Director General Peter Mukhito and not the Ministry of Information.
Irked with the Minister’s response, Viola threatened him that if he would not clarify the issue, he was going to be giving out President Mutharika’s private numbers to all Journalists inquiring about his job status so that the media can be checking with the President himself.
“If you and the President do not come out clear on this, I will be giving out the State President’s private numbers to journalists so that they ask him to confirm whether he has fired me or not,” Viola told the Minister.
On Monday, 2nd November, 2015 the Presidential Press Secretary gave some private numbers for President Mutharika to Mzuzu based Times Group journalists and others at the Nation Publications Limited who have been calling the President directly during awkward hours enquiring about Viola.
According to a State House source, Viola has also further threatened that should the President dare fire him, State House should brace up for more “top secret” revelations.
Viola, a teacher by training was appointed by President Mutharika as spokesperson on 10th April, 2015 and he has only been in the position for about 7 months.
With his suspension still hanging, Viola remains a lame duck Presidential Press Secretary as Mutharika is reported to be scouting around for his replacement.
Recently, Viola also courted controversy while moderating a presidential presser when he openly attacked one of Malawi’s leading media houses Zodiak Broadcasting Station accusing the station of promoting hate in Malawi and commenting on the death of President Mutharika as a football match.
Viola also accused the radio station of causing the death of 20 people through whathe called sensational reporting during the July 20 demonstrations against the DPP government in 2011.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :