President Joyce Banda has hired Malawi News Editor Steve Nhlane as Presidential Press Secretary.
Nhlane will also combine the role of spokesperson for the presidency previously held by politician Heatherwick Ntaba under late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.
In an interview on Monday, Nhlane, said he was excited with his new job and said he would create space for journalists to work in an environment where they are not intimidated or harassed.
“I cannot comment on what was happening in the past during the presidential press conferences at the open grounds, but journalists will not be harassed now for asking questions to the president,” said Nhlane.
Journalists were harassed and intimidated at open press conferences which the former head of state held in the presence of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) women and youth cadets, among other party loyalists.
“That will not be the case now,” said Nhlane a seasoned journalist, who has worked for 24 years in the print media with much of the years as a newsroom manager.
Nhlane holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Chancellor College obtained in 1987 and an MBA from Columbia Commonwealth University/Malawi which he earned in 2011.
The 51-year-old father of three has worked as Editor for Malawi News, a weekly for five years, Weekend Nation for six years, the defunct Star newspaper for three years and the Malawi News Agency for eight years.
Nhlane will be deputised at State House by Ruth Govati who is Press Officer.
Albert Mungomo was State House press officer for Mutharika whilst Ntaba was the presidential spokesperson and publicity for the then ruling party, the DPP.
Times Group Managing Director Leonnard Chikadya has hailed Nhlane’s appointment saying the president has chosen a level headed and seasoned journalist who knows the media industry better.
“The position of press secretary is a very serious although in the past, it has sometimes been abused. As a country, we went into our lowest ebb and the first citizen wants to recover what we have lost. Therefore, she needs sober minds of advisors. Steve therefore is crucial as he is the bridge between the first citizen and the people,” said Chikadya.
He described Nhlane as a mature journalist who advised the government and politicians through his columns and editing of stories and advised him “not to over colour himself with colours of politics” if he is to remain respected amongst his peers so that he should be welcomed back in the industry after his contract is over with the government.