Malawi President Peter Mutharika has dismissed reports that he is staying in a New York hotel that is costing Malawi taxpayers about K7 million per night.
Addressing the press on Tuesday in the United States of America (USA), Mutharika said the reports, which he attributed to online publications, were “unfounded and malicious”.
“I am not crazy to stay in a hotel room that costs $17 000 [about K6.8 million] per night. It is unimaginable how someone thinks I am crazy to do this. I am not crazy,” said Mutharika.
The Malawi leader said, “a simple inquiry to either the hotel, the Malawi Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN), the Ministry of Finance, the State Residences or the Ministry of Information” would have shown that nothing closer to the claimed amount was being spent on his accommodation.
“On a normal day, my room costs about $390, but because the rates of almost everything in New York go up during the UN General Assembly, at the time I came it cost about $2 000 [about K800 000]. For those that are coming now, it could be costing about $2 000 plus,” he said.
Mutharika described his room as the smallest of all presidential suites at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the heart of New York and a few blocks away from the UN secretariat.
He explained that in his position, he needs to stay in a suite for security reasons, which is self-contained for purposes of food preparation, laundry and and holding meetings.
The President also denied that his delegation had 68 people as claimed in the reports.
Said the Malawi leader: “The delegation from State House is about 20 people. There are people from ministries who have come to attend meetings that are relevant to their ministries. There are also people who have been funded by the private sector.
“We also have six journalists; three from Malawi News Agency, two from Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and one from the private media: Nation Publications Limited,” he added.
—Gedion Munthali, NPL’s News Analyst is writing from the UN in New York, USA