The administration of President Lazarus Chakwera has come out in the open through Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda that they are spying on journalists, opposition and all Malawians, saying there is nothing wrong with such measures.
Speaking during a MISA Malawi panel discussion on surveillance on Friday, Nyirenda said “spying is everywhere in the world” and people “should accept that they are under surveillance”.
He justified snooping on communications, saying the genocide in Rwanda was partly caused by Journalists and that people are already surveilled through security cameras but they do not complain.
Last month, Gregory Gondwe, an investigative Journalist who was arrested for publishing a story containing legal opinion of the Attorney General, alleged that authorities, before arresting him, listened to his phone conversations and then interrogated his sister about Gondwe’s whereabouts.
Malawians have since condemned the Attorney General for the remarks.
“AG has lost a plot here. Surveillance cameras are not to be confused with spying.
Someone can spy on your phone or computer, security cameras such as those at the airport are surveillance not spying,” said one person social media.
Another person said: “That’s an unfortunate thing for an AG to say. This push for mass surveillance leads to the erosion of civil liberties. No citizen deserves to live with the feeling that they are under the watchful eye of the government, unless there is just cause for watching such an individual. It is only in circumstances where an individual or a grouping evidently poses a danger to society that the right to privacy would be forfeited.”