Legal expert cautions Mutharika against using Malawi archaic laws to muzzle freedom of expression: ‘Insulting a President is criminal’

A legal expert has said it is counter productive for President Peter Mutharika to use archaic laws designed to protect one-party dictatorships to use them in a democracy to muzzle freedom.

Mutharika: I am giving one more warning to those insulting me, I will squeeze them

Mutharika said on Saturday at Thyolo Boma during his whistle-stop tour that the  Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members supporting Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s presidential candidacy risk arrest for insulting a Head of State under the protected flags, emblems and names Act.

The Malawi leader said he is ready to use Section 4 of the Protected Flag, Emblem and Names Act as Malawi laws prevent anyone from insulting the  President.

Section 4 of the Protected Flag, Emblem and Names Act states that any person who does any act or utters any words or publishes or utters any writing calculated to or liable to insult, ridicule or to show disrespect to or with reference to the President, the National Flag, the Armorial Ensigns, the Public Seal, or any protected emblem or protected likeness, shall be liable to a fine of K250 000 and to imprisonment for two years.

But Justin Dzonzi, Chairman of Malawi Human Rights Commission and lawyer said the laws were outdated and needed immediate repealing.

“The Act is not in tandem with the democracy. That was an old law which was more applicable in one party era,” he said.

Dzonzi said the law can only be applied with moderation, saying applying it seriously would be muzzling freedom of expression.

“These laws were designed to protect the one party regime. In a democracy, one of the pillars is freedom of expression,” he said.

Mutharika said he would order the police to arrest the DPP “rebels.”

Said Mutharika: “I am giving them one more warning. This is the last warning, if they continue insulting me, as they did in Lilongwe, there is a limit, ndiwafinya [I will squeeze them]. Section 4 is clear about that.”

He repeated the remarks at Mitawa Primary School ground in Traditional Authority Njema in Mulanje, saying he is giving Chilima Movement  ‘one more warning’ before he invokes the law against them, for insulting him.

Mutharika said it was unlawful to disrespect the flag of this country or the presidency.

“You should know that I don’t have the patience of job who can be tossed around without reacting to your torments,” he added.  

Malawi Law Society (MLS) has stated that though the President is at liberty to use any law, others might challenge them on the basis that they infringe on people’s freedom of expression.

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Chappe;
Guest

The President is the leader of the DEMOCRATIC Peoples’ Party, but he doesn’t appear to understand the meaning of democracy. He has lost the respect of the people and turning to an archaic law to enforce it will not work. His Presidency is a complete failure and it is too late to attempt to put matters right by trying to impose respect for himself just because he occupies the office of President. Such a move will be counterproductive.

nkonsimphile gumede
Guest

respect is earned by what you are doing mr grandpa. you dont force people to respect you when they do not see any reason to d so!!!!!!!!!!!

JB Mkandawire
Guest
JB Mkandawire

if you leave in a glass house don’t throw stones

Low Learner
Guest
Low Learner

Being a democratic nation and having freedom of expression does not imply that one can alter any kinds words to the APM. He deserves to be respected as the head of state. If it goes beyond freedom of expression Jud can be the good judge and the law must take its course.

Charlie Hebdo
Guest
Charlie Hebdo

You don’t demand respect. You earn it. His actions do more harm to the respect of the presidency than good. For instance, people respect those who keep their promises. What a pity we have a pathological liar for a president. Nobody has ever demanded that we respect SKC, but all those who do, do it out of their own volitions. Former vice president Justin Malewezi not even once, demanded that he be respected. Yet to this day, people respect him. Why? He earned it. Those who respect our friend at state house, do so merely because he is state president… Read more »

Dagobert
Guest
Dagobert

Is stupid insulting, if its the truth?
Seek legal advice!

Lookout màsuku
Guest
Lookout màsuku

Malawian President 2018,what a tone ..You allow your SG and that Illiterate Mchacha to insult others,you think you will be spared by your threats..You should just accept that things are not the way they used to be ,anthu atsegula maso .it’s time to revise your plan ,you are not popular and have never been popular..You are wasting out taxes,you cannot lead or rule complete waste of space and salary..You and Goodall should retire before Xmas ,maybe we can have something to celebrate about in December.You are a useless American tourist getting fat with our tax, you should considered returning where… Read more »

Phiri A
Guest
Phiri A

There should be respect for the president, the same people who have ambitious ll one day occupy that sit and they ll feel the pain when they take over that position as what goes round comes round ,

Petulo
Guest
Petulo

If APM wants too much respect, he should go home and never stand for public position again. Otherwise stop threatening pipo

Tenzi Mzungu
Guest
Tenzi Mzungu

But it is still a law. You are stupid instead of telling our MPs to repeal archaic laws your busy attacking APM . A law is a law period. Our MPs are always busy with stupid things instead of amending archaic laws

Spinoza
Guest

Every right or freedom has its responsibility, hence a need to regulate our rights & freedom. Since the inceiption of multiparty democracy about 26 yrs have gone, but the law which our law experts are saying is applicable in dictatorial kind of gvt has not being changed. Now the question is whose problem is that? How many laws then are in our constitution that we still have to change inoder to suite our democratic era????

Central
Guest
Central

If they rejected their own bill during Electoral Law review in parliament, do you expect DPP to allow repeal of this law? anthu amenewa m’mene akukondela ubwana anthu amenewa! Tsopanotu they can kill becoz of leadership…………………………………!! Check their tone, and the non-verbals!! You will agree with me. Secondly, its government that is supposed to draft a revised bills and table the same in parliament through Ministry of Justice not human rights bodies!! Funny enough it is DPP that has been saying a lot about what Kamuzu’s leadership used to do! Yet here thay are, today APM has drifted into the… Read more »

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