Written by THECHIEF MOURNER
Today’s acquittal of freelance journalist Justice Mponda is yet another demonstration that the Joyce Banda administration is prepared to disregard the rule of law in its desperate bid to gain international sympathy and electorate favour.
Whether or not Mr Mponda’s journalism was below the ethical standards expected of journalists is not the issue here. The issue here is that the government’s case against Mr Mponda was thrown out because of lack of evidence and testimony. Thus a journalist was arrested and severely persecuted by the Joyce Banda government when there was no evidence for his arrest. Essentially, against the rule of law, the Banda administration used the arrest as a means to threaten, persecute and silence freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Although those that stand in support of these important human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression are celebrating the acquittal of Mr Mponda, it is important to bear in mind that Mr Mponda now deserves to be compensated by the State for the pain and suffering that he was made to go through. Mr MPonda was arrested and taken to holding cells that were 300 kilometres away from his home, and remained in custody for up to 3 days before he was charged and released on Bail. For no good reason, his case was being held at a court 300 kilometres away from his place of residence, making him incur unnecessary financial costs just to attend trial. Of course Mr Mponda will probably not bother commencing a civil case against the Banda government, knowing that with this kind of interference and disregard of the Rule of Law, such an action will be an exercise in futility.
The Banda administration has recently come under strong criticism for the bribes it gave out to have the My Malawi My views Facebook group closed. Today’s acquittal of Mr Mponda is yet another indictment of the Banda administrations efforts in suppressing freedom of speech.
It has become the norm that political support is now blind to reason and is taking the form of simply stupidly clapping hands and ululating; using the mouth and the hands without using the brain. Hence it is expected that such supporters will throw insults and attack the writer and Mr Mponda. However, The all the insults in the world will not, and should not let the reader lose focus of this bottom line: The arrest and acquittal of Justice Mponda exposes the danger that the Banda administration poses to Freedom of Expression. The fact that Mr Mponda will not be compensated for his pain and suffering resulting from needless and unjustified Government persecution underlines its total disregard for the Rule of Law.