President Peter Mutharika has earmarked Times Group’s Business Editor Thom Khanje as his press secretary replacing the fired Gerald Viola, who was relieved of his duties at State House earlier this month, Malawi Punch has established.
Malawi Punch can reveal that Khanje who is also Chairperson for National Media Institute of Southern Africa (Malawi Chapter) has resigned with immediate effect from Times group in readiness for his new role.
Several names were listed to replace Viola who was posted to Ministry of Information as Technical Advisor. Director of Information, Bright Molande was the one considered to be potential Viola’s successor.
Others who were tipped are MBC journalist Mzati Nkolokosa- a former feature writer for the Nation Publications and part time Polytechnic lecturer- and MBC’s Vincent Khonyongwa.
State House officials are silent on Khanje’s appointment which is yet to be made official before Press Freedom celebrations next week.
Mutharika hired Viola last year to replace Fredrick Ndala who was deployed to Ministry of Information as Technical Advisor before moved to Ministry of Trade and Industry to help champion the ‘Buy Malawi’ program which was launched by the President last month.
Viola rose to the position of Presidential Press Officer after the occupant of the office, Fredrick Ndala got unceremoniously fired after a scandal that revolved around money that was given to journalists when they visited State House in Blantyre for media face- off with President Mutharika in 2014.
President Mutharika has so far fired three spokespersons since he ascended to power in 2014 after he fired Ndala and his number two Timpuza Mwansambo.
It is understood that Viola was fired after he made headlines for telling Times Television that President Mutharika plans to buy a jet when the Malawi economy recovers and that some appointments are not done by the Head of State.