Mhango’s statement follows a story carried by Weekend National of January 23, 2016 titled “APM’s Aides in MK307 million package”.
In the story, the paper revealed that despite Mutharika reducing the number Cabinet Ministers to 20 as part of austerity measures, the government is spending more than MK307 million monthly on Mutharika’s aide who are 16 in total.
According to the paper, Presidential advisors are entitled 500 litres of fuel a month (about K400 000), a vehicle which they drive themselves, medical scheme and airtime, free water, free electricity, DStv subscription at a combined cost of almost K300 000 ($434), including a driver and guard who are also allocated about K100 000 ($145) on top of a salary of close to K1.6 million ($2 312), which translates to K25.6 million ($36, 994.21) a month for the 16, totalling K307 million ($443 641) annually.
But reacting to the claims, Mhango said Government is concerned that some sections of the media are persistently trying to make the nation believe that the savings from the reduced Cabinet have been cancelled by the appointments of Presidential Advisers and Assistants.
“The publication of this misinformation is an outright betrayal of the many Malawians who unsuspiciously and innocently read news purely on trust that they are reading facts and truth. We note that the regurgitation of the said misinformation is coming in a pattern of other false stories that have been desperate to create propaganda that Government is extravagant.
“The public is reminded that the President reduced the number of Ministers from twenty four (24) in Joyce Banda’s Government to the current sixteen (16), and from six (6) Deputy Ministers to the current two (2) Deputy Ministers. Lest we forget, the size of cabinet once hit a record of forty-six (46) members in the past. The surviving truth is that Peter Mutharika’s austerity measures and reduction of cabinet is saving huge sums of money and these savings cannot be undermined by the misinformed opinion being created around the President’s professional supporting staff,” reads in part the statement.
He added: “In the spirit of transparency, we have looked at the total packages for the eight Ministers and four Deputy Ministers who were deleted to compute the amount of savings that were achieved by the President. The packages include salaries; and allowances for housing, fuel, and telephone; pensions; driver; as well as motor vehicle running expenses. We have also included costs for personal staff such as the Personal Assistant, office Secretary and a personal Security Guard. These savings come to MK28,039,992. from the eight (8) Ministers and MK11,835,268. from the four (4) Deputy Ministers.-Face of Malawi.