Malawi Police urges against Facebook updates, tweets on demos

Malawi Police has called on citizens to desist on posting updates on social media such as Facebook and Twitter on the consumers nationwide protests on Thursday against a currency devaluation and inflation.

Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito, whose organisation is planning the demonstrations said  while he appreciate  it is police’s role to provide security during the demonstration, said limiting freedom of speech will be against human rights.

National police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo told journalists on Wednesday that the mainstream media- online, print and electronic – should not treat the demonstrations like a football match.

“We are asking the radio stations not to be giving live commentaries like it is a football match,” she appealed.

Kanyama: No tweeting

And Southern Region Police Commissioner Paul Kanyama said: “One of the elements that fueled ugly scenes in July 2011 demonstrations was the way the media conducted itself. They were covering it as if it was a football commentary.”

Police spokesperson also cautioned against social media frenzy.

“ And also we are appealing to people to stop using social media like Facebook and Twitter updating one another on the progress of the demonstrations because this may fuel anger somewhere,” she said.

Already activists on Wednesday drummed up support for the protests by using micro blogging services and Facebook asking people to stand up, proclaiming: “We have to show the world that we are not a cowardly, submissive people.”

Internet activism, it seems, is no longer the hobby of a chattering class but an empowering motor that has mobilised thousands of protesters across the continent and also the July 20, 211 demonstrations in Malawi

Activists warned in Facebook posting of reprisals against authorities if they block internet access for protestors.

The  organizers still requires people  to protest  peacefully in the streets and not geeks sitting at their keyboards.

Manjolo said the police will be all over the city streets to ensure the situation is calm.

“But we are hopeful that God will be with us that there should not be scenes of violence during the demonstrations,” said Manjolo.

Government and various stakeholders have been addressing news conferences urging CAMA not to go ahead with the plans to hold demonstrations and give dialogue a chance to prevent loss of lives and property.

But CAMA boss Kapito had maintained that he will go ahead with street protests against the Joyce Banda’s government failure to address the ailing economy.

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