The Public Relations Society of Malawi (PRSM) has condemned hate speech ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, appealing to individuals, political and faith groups to tame their tongues to avoid inciting violence.
In a statement signed by the society’s president Lewis Msasa, the group said the current trend of hate speech could fuel intolerance among ethnic, political and religious groups which could breed violence.
Reads the society’s statement in part: “PRSM recommends reflective message development, an aspect of good Public Relations [PR] and communications, to avert utterances that could be a recipe for violence.
“Political parties and religious institutions can only genuinely build their credibility and recruit more members through positive messages that demonstrate respect for others.
“Democracy flourishes where there is open and free exchange of ideas and mutual respect. Respect should permeate all levels of society for the country to be well-regarded internationally.”
Recently, the political environment in the country has been saturated with hate speech, especially during political rallies.
In an interview yesterday, Chancellor College associate professor of law Edge Kanyongolo yesterday echoed PRSM’s position, saying hate speech was worrisome.
He said: “Freedom of speech has limits and unless we are careful about those limits, it can actually lead to violence and nobody wants violence.
“Although it is not always easy to distinguish and draw the line between freedom of speech and hate speech, we should try to draw the line.”
Kanyongolo encouraged stakeholders, including political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs), to condemn hate speech.
PRSM was officially launched on August 4 this year to promote professional PR for national development.