‘Big Kahuna’ using archaic laws to threaten media- lawyer

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.”

Archaic

Speaking on Capital FM interview programme, Straight Talkwith Brian Banda on Tuesday evening, Chibambo, noted that  the law  is archaic .

Chibambo: The law is not in step with the democratic constitution

“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.”

Birthright

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”.

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