Man Arrested for Insulting Chakwera on WhatsApp

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president Chakwera

The Malawi Police have arrested a man from Mponera for allegedly insulting President Lazarus Chakwera dancing moves. The individual is accused of posting comments on a WhatsApp group about a TikTok footage of President Chakwera.

The individual, identified as Sainani Nkhoma from Chikuti 3 Village, is believed to have commented on a short video clip that appeared to show President Chakwera dancing, which was posted on the “Mponela Hotspot WhatsApp” group on May 5, 2024.

His comments did not sit well with other members of the group, who alerted the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Subsequently, MCP members went to Sainani Nkhoma’s house around 7:30 PM on Tuesday to execute a ‘Malawi Congress Party’ arrest and brought him to the Mponela Police where he was detained.

When this reporter reached out for comment, Macpatson Msadala, the publicist for Mponela Police Station, requested more time.

Several locals expressed shock at the arrest and claimed it has instilled fear regarding their freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the Malawi Constitution.

Mai Estery Mwale, a restaurant owner in Mponela trading center, highlighted the contrast between President Chakwera’s actions and those of his predecessor, Peter Mutharika. She noted that despite being heavily criticized, Mutharika never arrested anyone over such issues during his tenure.

She pointed out the inconsistency of the recent arrest with President Chakwera’s statements during a press conference at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Press Freedom Day, where he asserted he had never ordered the arrest of anyone in Malawi for political reasons or for exercising their freedom of expression.

Despite Chakwera’s remarks, the Malawi police, which operates under the Homeland Security ministry led by Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, arrested two journalists, Gregory Gondwe from PIJ Malawi and Macmillan Mhone from Malawi24 for reporting on corruption.

“Who authorized the MCP members to execute an arrest? Sainani Nkhoma’s case is a civil matter and he deserves to be freed,” she stated.

She recalled a recent incident where President Chakwera ordered the release of a man from Ndirande Township in Blantyre who had thrown a stone at the presidential motorcade as it was en route to Chileka International Airport for a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This incident is not the first time the Malawi police have been accused of misusing the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act, as demonstrated by the earlier arrests of Gondwe and Mhone.

The act stipulates that people can be arrested for “willfully and repeatedly” using electronic communication to “disturb or attempt to disturb the peace, quietness, or right of privacy” of any person. However, it remains unclear how Nkhoma’s comments could have disturbed the peace, quietness, or right to privacy of Mr. Chakwera.

Ironically, as expressed by several people in Mponera, it is the arrest which has instigated fear and disturbed their peace.

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