A lawyer-cum-politician Kamuzu Chibambo has said threats which President Bingu wa Mutharika made against the media through a statement issued by State House press officier, Albert Mungomo, is based on archaic pieces of legislation .
Mutharika warned that government will not hesitate to revoke pieces of legislation such as Section 3 (2) of the protected Flag, Emblems and Names if the media ‘insult’ the President or call him names like ‘Big Kahuna’, ‘Moya’ or ‘Chindere Chakufikapo’.
The law says offenders “shall be liable to a fine of 1000 pounds and to imprisonment for two years.”
Speaking on Capital FM interview programme, Straight Talkwith Brian Banda on Tuesday evening, Chibambo, noted that the law is archaic .
“The fine is in Pounds. Its an old law,” said Chibambo, a Blantyre-based private practice lawyer .
He said the law cited by the President is not constistent with the democratic environment and the bill of rights enshrined in the Constitution.
“You cannot have a public official covered or protected under a certain covering in a democratic society,” he said.
Chibambo said any leader holding public office is “subject to public scrutiny.”
The lawyer, who is also president of People’s Transformation Party (Petra), condemned the statement from State House, saying it was “a misfit in a democratic dispensation.”
“Criticising public officials is not an issue at all. It is acceptable world over. This is a norm today ,” he said.
Chibambo added: “Electorate have every right to criticise you, to ridicule you. If you are not ready, get out.”
The lawyer who is also a born-again Christian said Malawians have freedom of expression and speech as their “birthright.”
“ God wants us to be free. It’s only free people that contributely to the development of their country. Nobody has a right to interfere to our freedom,” he said.
Media freedom is enshrined in Malawi’s Constitution under Section 36. It says “the press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :