By Yamikani Yapuwa
Government has called on Malawians to respect laws governing the country as the May Tripartite Elections get draw closer.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Henry Mussa made the call on Monday at the Central Office of Information in Blantyre during a press briefing aimed at drawing the public attention to section 4 of the Protected Flags, Emblems and Names Act.
“Of late government has noted with concern criticism from some quarters suggesting that those suspected to have insulted the head of state should not be brought to book.
“Some critics have gone further to insinuate that arresting such suspects is politically motivated, unconstitutional and undemocratic,” said Mussa.
Mussa said Malawians should know that until now there is an existing law that prohibits actions, utterances and publications that are calculated to insult, ridicule or demean the head of state of this country.
“Section 4 of the Protected Flags, Emblems and Names Act states that any person who does any act or utters any words or publishes or makes any writing calculated to or liable to insult or ridicule or to show disrespect to or with respect 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 two years imprisonment,” said Mussa.
Mussa said government is surprised that some of the criticism is coming from Members of Parliament and civil society organisations who ordinarily were supposed to know how laws are repealed, modified or challenged.
“If there is worry that it cannot survive the constitutional limitations test under section 44 of the Republican Constitution, whosoever feels infringed may apply to the High Court and have the section interpreted,” he said.
“Therefore, as long as the Act is part of the laws of Malawi, relevant organs of the state are at liberty to invoke the provision of this law whenever necessary and also when a violation has been committed,” Mussa added.