President Peter Mutharika has said he has not taken any action on his Press Secretary Gerald Viola, contrary to speculations that he had fired him for saying that Mutharika would buy another presidential jet once the country’s economy improves.
Speaking in an exclusive telephone interview with The Daily Times on Monday night, Mutharika described as mere speculation news that that he had fired Viola.
“Those are just rumours. Do not take them seriously. There is nothing of that sort,” said Mutharika in the brief interview.
In an earlier interview, Viola also dismissed reports that he had been ordered to stop speaking to the media.
Said Viola: “If I am stopped from speaking to you people, then why am I here? That would mean that I am not working.”
He challenged that nobody can write him a letter to that effect without the knowledge of the President, saying he is directly answerable to the Head of State.
However, one Cabinet minister told The Daily Times that Viola had made a big blunder and that everybody was waiting to see what Mutharika would do to him.
Some sources also said that Mutharika had written Viola, stopping him from commenting on presidential matters.
Since he assumed office, Mutharika has so far fired two press secretaries Fredrick Ndala and Timpunza Mwansambo.
In an exclusive interview with Times TV’s Brian Banda on Saturday, Viola claimed that Mutharika wants to buy the jet because Malawi is the only country in Africa that does not own such an executive aeroplane.
He said when the country was ruled by the first president Hastings Kamuzu Banda there were two jets.
But Viola said the President cannot buy the jet now because of the prevailing poor economic conditions.
“It’s only Malawi in the whole of Africa that does not have pride or legacy to claim that this is our personal jet. Had it been it was not sold, this Mutharika should not have been spending money by hiring another jet,” said Viola.
In the interview on Times TV, Viola also said Mutharika’s late brother, Bingu, bought a presidential jet but received wild condemnation from some Malawians who demanded that it should be sold because it was expensive to maintain.
Donors also protested against the jet and Bingu’s successor Joyce Banda sold it.
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