Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) sports commentator Peter Fote has been temporarily axed from the Sports Desk allegedly for his “biased commentary” involving Silver Strikers games.
But a banned Silver Strikers official has surprised the local football fraternity for his blatant attack on Fote, accusing him of extorting money in order to give the Bankers fair coverage.
An e-mail written by Silver Strikers’ official Dennis Kachiko, addressed to MBC management and copied to Super League of Malawi (Sulom), Sports Writers Association of Malawi (Swam) and other journal¬ists, claims that Fote sent text messages demanding money from Kachikho for good coverage.
Asked why he sent the e-mail this time when the incident happened last year, Kachikho claimed that the unfair coverage Silver Strikers suffered this year was be¬cause the Lilongwe club did not bow down to Fote’s demands last year.
“I warned him to stop what he was doing or else I would report him to his management. At that time I feared that if I reported him his job would be at stake. However, it seems he became bitter that we did not give him the money and he started reporting negative stories about Silver Strikers since that time. This is why I decided to go ahead and report him,” he said in an interview yesterday.
But in an interview on Tuesday Fote said he suspected there was a conspiracy against him and that he had explained to management at MBC his side of the story.
“There is a conspiracy against me and I have explained everything to management and they have understood. I am not mandated to speak to the media so if you want more information on this matter please talk to my seniors at the station,” he said.
A letter addressed to Fote from MBC man¬agement, which this reporter has seen, says management had suspended Fote from the Sports Desk to pave way for investigations into the allegations.
The e-mail that Kachikho wrote is alleging that Fote asked for money from him.
“Mr. Peter Fote on 17th April 2012 sent me texts in which he gave me his account number 0140571904400 of Standard Bank through his mobile number 0999968613. When I asked Mr. Fote what the account number was for, he said he wanted to promote Silver Strikers by talking good of the team since there were issues of match fixing at that time. I warned Mr. Fote that he should never ever sent (sic) those texts again to me because I will report to his management.
“On Saturday Mr. Fote was assigned to cover a game of Silver Strikers, and the way he was covering the game left a lot to be desired. I called him in the morn¬ing to reason with him but he started shouting at me that I am a Primary School Teacher by origin (sic) and I told him that it’s true and I don’t regret since I take it as an achievement (sic) to me,” reads the email.
Kachikho was recently banned for one year from football by Sulom for ‘unbecoming behaviour’ that put the game into disrepute. In 2008, he was also banned from football for six months on similar charges.
However, Silver Strikers chairperson MacDonald Mwale said the official position of Silver Strikers is that they are against Fote for bad-mouthing the club, not for the bribery allegations.
“As Silver Strikers our bone of contention against Fote is that he has been making bad comments about the club which we thought did not reflect professional conduct on the part of the sports reporter,” he said.
Added Mwale: “Imagine the reporter in question saying ‘why does Reserve Bank sponsor a club that believes in juju?’ We believe such comments, which have no evidence whatsoever, could tarnish the image of the club. This is why we contacted our lawyers to officially complain to MBC and Macra about such kind of comments. As for the other allegations that the reporter was asking for money, that does not concern Silver Strikers as a club but it’s a personal matter between Kachikho and Fote.”
Sulom General Secretary Williams Banda said they would have loved if the complaint from Silver Strikers had been directed to them because they own the Super League broadcasting rights.
Meanwhile, Swam chairperson Peter Kanjere said it was premature to comment on the Fote-Kachikho issue since the body was still investigating the matter.
“As Swam we are concerned with the professional conduct of sports journalists. We encourage our members to ob¬serve professional ethics. In this matter, however, we are not sure whether it is an ethical issue or a personal clash. As soon as we are certain with what we are dealing with we will make our official position clear,” he said.