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Threats gag analysts

Political analysts and social commentators in the country are living in fear, following verbal and physical threats from politicians.
Political Science Association of Malawi General Secretary, Ernest Thindwa, said, although there have not been official complaints about the threats, informal conversations among members reveal that a number of them are threatened for contributing to political and social discourse.
Some well-known political commentators stopped granting media interviews as they usually say they fear for their lives and families after receiving threats.
Thindwa said some of the threats have been serious and from people who have influence in the country.
“It should be a concern because over 20 years of democracy, one would think that there would be an indication of maturity from the political elite to appreciate and, indeed, accommodate dissenting views. Unfortunately, that seems not to be the case.
“It appears people, especially those in positions of influence, would not want to hear dissenting views. They want everyone to toe their line, which is not possible in a democracy. In democracy, you expect divergent and competing views and that is what makes a good society. When people are competing on the basis of points, views, ideas, debate, that is what improves the quality of politics and human life,” Thindwa said.
But Thindwa said the threats do not worry the association and will not divert it from its objective of contributing to political dialogue and improving the quality of democracy and life for Malawians.
“We will still pursue what brought us together regardless of threats. In fact that does not worry us but we are, of course, concerned,” he said.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi, said nobody should be threatened for expressing their opinion.
“It is wrong to threaten anybody. We are in a democracy and we want people to express themselves [freely],” Dausi said.
He said the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act of 2016 is meant to curb the threats.
“If somebody sends a message threatening someone, it can be tendered in court of law as evidence and it is permissible,” he said.
Last year saw some political scientists under the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at Chancellor College being threatened and their offices were attacked for releasing results of surveys that did not favour President Peter Mutharika and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

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