By: Happy Arnold Soko
The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) has blasted President Peter Mutharika for the unnecessary arrests of Malawians who criticizes his government.
According to the statement released on Tuesday 15th March 2016 the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader has come under fire for arresting citizens who voice out their grievances.
In a statement signed by MISA-Malawi Chairperson, Thom Khanje, there is a growing intolerance of free speech in the country under the leadership of Mutharika
“We would like to call upon the president to distance his administration from developments that are tarnishing the image of his government. Yesterday, March 14, 2016, we read reports that a 19-year-old Information and Communications Technology (ICT) student at Daeyang Luke University in Lilongwe, Patrick Semu, was arrested by the Malawi Police and spent 36 hours behind bars for allegedly criticizing the president.”
The press release further blames the DPP leader for last year’s September arrest of a 60-year-old Alinafe Paulo of Traditional Authority Nsamala in Balaka who was convicted and fined MK3, 000 for attacking Mutharika.
“Criticizing the president falls within the framework of this provision and should never warrant an arrest. People should not be arrested for merely exercising a constitutional right. Criticizing those in power is healthy for a democracy and the government is constitutionally obliged to tolerate and respect citizen views and opinions.
“This is also critical in building a healthy and vibrant society. As MISA-Malawi we find the conduct of the Police in arresting and charging people for insulting the President retrogressive and a threat to democracy. We, therefore, call upon Mutharika to distance his administration from such incidents and reports. The conduct is likely to cause Breach of Peace” further reads the statement.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Police in Mzuzu are keeping in custody 13 youths for organizing a vigil against Mutharika’s poor leadership.