The Association of Community Radios (Acora) has written Ministry of Information demanding payment for Covid-19 awareness messages.
In a letter dated April 23 2021, signed by Acora chairperson Luciano Milala, the association has given the ministry seven days to respond failing which they will seek alternative measures to get their payments.
Reads the letter in part: “Meanwhile, Acora understands that while no community radio station has been paid for Covid-19 awareness and that they have been waiting for four months, two national radio stations that have connections with the current government were paid for their services sometime back by the same ministry.
“Assuming these allegations are true, Acora finds this development to be highly irregular, abusive and counterproductive to the development of the media industry.”
According to the letter, which has also been copied to the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi, in January this year the Ministry of Information engaged 16 community radio stations for an initial period of 60 days to run daily Covid-19 updates from the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
In a telephone interview on Sunday, Milala said he could not give the exact amount the community radios are being owed as each radio station made its own quotation.
He said: “But we have so far managed to talk to the Minister of Information who is currently out of the country and he has promised to follow up on the matter once he is back.”
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako, in a written response on Sunday, acknowledged the matter but asked for more time before commenting.
Meanwhile, Misa Malawi chairperson Tereza Ndanga said they hope the matter is resolved amicably.
She said: “We have seen the letter in circulation and we believe this is between the community radio stations and the ministry. We have every reason to believe that they will resolve the issues amicably.”
As part of interventions in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Information set aside about K185 million for information dissemination from a total K6.2 billion for overall activities in various sectors.
However, the K6.2 billion investigative audit report on Covid-19 response funds exposed some irregularities, mostly relating to use of single sourcing in procurement of airtime for some national radio and television stations.
Currently, some former and serving officials from the ministry have been arrested in relation to the funds abuse.