President’s aide abuses power
President Peter Mutharika’s spokesperson, Gerald Viola, is caught in a controversy after authoring a letter that is asking government ministries and departments to advertise on Galaxy Radio which belongs to the family of the president, Malawi News can reveal.
But Viola in an interview Friday quickly dismissed the letter as partly manipulated saying what we have seen was somehow altered to insert his current position as Presidential Press Secretary but he did not deny its contents.
A letter which we have seen dated July 13, 2015 has a government letter head and addressed to ‘whom it may concern’ partly reads “this communication serves to plead with your department to make good relations in business where necessary with Galaxy FM. The radio station would like to get adverts from you whenever you feel advertising some of your products.’
Galaxy Radio Station is owned by the Mutharika family and has consistently campaigned for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since its inception some years ago.
But Viola, who is currently in Zambia on an official trip, while confirming being the author of the letter, denied as having abused his official powers and conducted himself in the manner that would give undue business advantage to Galaxy Radio.
“Of course, I wrote that letter but it was in June 2014 when I was holding the position of Director of Information. At that particular time Galaxy, just like any other media house, came with their business profile and we were only doing introductions for them. The letter I wrote at that time was signed but the one now in circulation was edited at Galaxy, I guess because we advised them to wait until the current financial year,” he said.
Viola was promoted from Director of Information to his current position of Presidential Press Secretary early this year.
He added that the letter was only acting as a plea other than giving orders to any government ministry or department.
But Viola was tongue tied when asked if the same kind of ‘introductory’ letters were written for all media organisations who have expressed interest to do business with government.
The Presidential Press Officer therefore blamed Galaxy Radio for what he called ‘altering’ the letter.
When contacted for comment Galaxy Radio Station Manager, Alfred Banda, denied having seen the letter.
“I personally have not seen the letter because I have been out of office for sometime. I need to find out what is happening. However, I am aware that my Marketing Manager has been in touch with Mr. Viola but can’t say much until I speak to him,” he said.
He promised to come back to us which he had not done by the time we went to press.
Viola was once a broadcaster for Galaxy Radio after he left state broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
During his time at the Galaxy he was involved in the campaigning for the DPP through various propaganda programmes that were being aired at the radio station apart from live outside broadcasts covering the campaign of President Peter Mutharika.
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