I n the week just ended there has been a lot that has been happening.
The most topical of all events that happened in the past week was the return of President Peter Mutharika apparently from United General Assembly.
Before Mutharika’s return social media was awash with rumours that Mutharika was seriously sick in the US and many not even come back home.
But on Sunday October 16, he did return home. One would have thought that after the return, Malawians would put the matter to rest, but no, now the same social media is again awash with memes of people greeting each other using left hand—and we all know the genesis of the left handshake and I will not delve into that for today.
What caught my attention again this past week was news that some human rights activists such as Billy Banda think it is high time that social media was regulated because according to Billy Banda, people are abusing social media.
My immediate reaction was of surprise at such an outrageous suggestion. Why would someone in his right mind think of gagging people from freely expressing themselves in this day?
I do not know on whose side, politically, Billy Banda is but, I must admit that I found his remark totally out of sync.
Social media has become a crucial medium through which people can express themselves and share ideas and has become an increasingly important tool through which democracy and human rights activists mobilize and advocate for political, social, and economic reform.
Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Malawi Constitution and nobody has the right to take it away from the people.
As a human rights activist, Banda should know better than to pick and choose what rights to fight for and what not to fight for. Social media have given the people a platform through which they are able to express themselves freely.
Those with power have several platforms that they use to express themselves which cannot be accessed by everyone. How will the regulator of social media decide who is abusing it or not?
Let’s not give more power to the powerful to suppress the less powerful. Social media should not be regulated.
I know sometimes rumour-mongering can be rife on social media but that’s not enough reason to regulate or gag people. In the wake of past week events, you cannot blame Malawians who took it to the social media to look for answers from government on where and what Mutharika was. If you don’t give information, people will speculate.