A fierce social and political commentator Idriss Ali Nassah has faulted Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani, saying as government spokesperson he is degrading his office, citing the statement he issued that government has stopped granting permissions to hold demonstrations in all the country’s districts.
Botomani defended government position saying that recent protests “had not been peaceful” and had led to “vandalised offices”.
He further warned that protesters will be met with force in the streets.
But Nassah, a known commentator acerbic in vocabulary, faulted Botomoni in his post on Facebook, saying Botomani’s “grotesque statement” is the furthest from being responsive, thoughtful and tactful that government communications can be.
“The real problem with the way Minister of Information Mark Botomani is communicating government decisions is that he is effectively degrading an office that cannot afford to be degraded right now. It is bad for him and bad for the country,” wrote Nassah.
He continued: “Bad for him because he is fast becoming a joke worse than [Nicholous] Dausi (Minister of Homeland Security and former government spokesman), and bad for the country because it further infuriates an already combustible situation; the functional equivalent of adding petrol to a raging fire.”
Nassah said the threats and phrases used in Botomani statement were not only a “combination of nuisance but of nonsense, too: a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
He added: “If Botomani thinks anyone is going to listen to him—or be intimidated by his rubbish statement—I’d suggest he thinks again.”
In quotes reported by Nation newspaper, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College law professors Edge Kanyongolo and Garton Kamchedzera said government has no mandate to ban demonstrations.
Kanyongolo, Kamchedzera and private practice lawyer Justin Dzonzi all said demonstrations were a constitutional right which cannot be stopped by a minister.
Kamchedzera said of the statement: “It is an admission of failure as government to facilitate demonstrations that are peaceful. The attempt to make the demonstrations fail is a careless control that disregards the Constitution and people’s voices.
“The press statement either reflects an arrogant approach to people with a different voice or a thinking that those in government are too clever for the public they should lead, as the assumption is that people will believe the government that it has power to permit demonstrations.”
On his part, Kanyongolo said the Constitution is the supreme law and cannot be subordinated to “ministerial dictates”.
Dzonzi said the demonstrations are an inconvenience to government because they do not suit their political interests.
He said: “When unpacking the philosophy of human rights, the moment a person has been granted the right, it means another one has a duty. If the Constitution guarantees a right, then the government has the duty not to interfere with such a right. The jurisprudence is that you cannot seek permission to exercise a right, as doing so would mean the rights being reduced to a privilege.
“So to me it’s simple: the declaration is illegal, is unworthy, and people must just ignore it because for as long as we have this kind of thinking in government, such issues will keep propping up.”
Under Section 45 (3), the Constitution stresses that derogation shall only be permissible during a state of emergency with respect to freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and rights.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :