In a democratic society where one has the right to freedom of expression and association among many other rights provided in the Republican Constitution, I still feel, there is need to do some soul-searching and have some limitations to whatever we feel is our right in a democratic society.
The news that President Joyce Banda, fondly called JB, has opened a Facebook account to interact with Malawians of goodwill and develop the country together is a positive development in as far as technology is concerned, but not viable in a country like Malawi where democracy is still far from maturity.
I have ever opened the President’s Facebook page to appreciate how effective it is and how it is being used. Looking at the comments and suggestions from Malawians on the page, I tend to wonder if indeed the country’s leadership has advisers who are capable of protecting the high office of the land from insults. It leaves a lot to be desired, considering that JB is the First Citizen whose private life is not supposed to be everybody’s cup of tea.
As head of this country, Banda has diverse platforms she can use to reach out to many Malawians in addressing various issues Malawi is going through. In my opinion, Facebook and other social media networks should not be part of them. I found some of the comments made on her page childish. In fact, with her tight schedule, will she get the time to view comments on Facebook?
As much as I want to appreciate that my President has the right to join the cyber world, Facebook will not help close the communication gap between her and the people. It will only create room for castigation.
Remember Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu promised that government was going to take measures to protect her from insults using technologies which he said were available. Where is the protection now when her Facebook wall is awash with insults not befitting the high office?
The President’s advisers should have foreseen this and advised her on the repercussions before proceeding with this idea. Those that have opened her page may agree with me and appreciate my concerns.
Let me, in my capacity as a citizen who is very passionate about my country, blame those that surround the President for not coming forth to stop or discourage the President from setting up a Facebook page which will not only embarrass her, but bring her down to the level of an ordinary person.
Malawians, JB is our President, let us not shame her. All Facebook and other social network users, please, let us be civilised. We are now in the 21st century, and it is high time we woke up and joined the rest of the world in enjoying the fruits of democracy in a responsible manner.
Let us not take advantage of our democracy to abuse and swear at other people as evidenced by the sour comments on JB’s wall.
Our democracy cannot grow if we cannot be mature and responsible citizens. The Facebook page can only be useful in the development of this country, as per JB’s dream, only if we change the way we use it. The future of technology lies in our hands, let us start thinking positively and bring about ideas that will make us and our nation be part of the global village, for there is nothing for us without us.
—The author is an actor, a comedian, teacher, social activist, politician and a campaign ambassador