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Malawian nurse arrested for insulting President Chakwera online

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A 39-year-old Malawian nurse, Chidawawa Mainje, has been arrested and charged with cyber harassment for allegedly insulting President Lazarus Chakwera online during a WhatsApp debate on governance.

According to free speech advocates in the southern African country, Mainje who was arrested in line with the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act 2016 which prohibits insulting someone online, faces up to
five years in prison and a fine of $2,500 if found guilty.

Mainje was arrested on Tuesday after reportedly used an expletive on the instant messaging service about how the Chakwera has done nothing to change the lives of people who voted for him.

According to Michael Kayiyatsa, the Executive Director for rights group, Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, the arrest of Mainje was a violation of freedom of expression.

“The guy who was arrested was expressing an opinion which was not favorable to the president. But it’s within his right to express such views, and he is protected by Section 35 of our constitution.

“So, the best that police should have done is simply to provide advice, but this is somebody expressing their views,” Kayiyatsa said in a statement.

Another human rights activist, Billy Banda, the founder of Malawi Watch, said the police are now being used to help shield the current administration from public criticism.

“The police are not entitled in any way to sound like they are protecting one particular individual.

“Are the police able to look back? We had the former president, Professor Peter Mutharika. He was insulted. He never in any way arrested or directed anybody to be arrested.”

But Harry Namwaza, the deputy spokesperson for the Malawi Police Service, while defending the arrest of Mainje, said there was no way he could enjoy freedom of his rights while infringing on the rights of others.

“You can’t enjoy your freedom or your rights while at the same time you are infringing the rights of others. It doesn’t work like that. There should be a responsibility. So, it’s a criminal offense. That’s why we have arrested him,” Namwaza said.

“Of course, people may have different opinions, but we are bound to ensure that laws are being respected, laws are being enforced. So, we are just doing our job,” Namwaza added.

Mainje’s arrest comes a week after police arrested a 51-year-old man for allegedly insulting the Minister of Labour, Vera Kamtukule, in his WhatsApp group post.

Metro

‘Take responsibility, Nigerians are suffering because of your policies,’ Atiku tackles Tinubu

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Former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has urged President Bola Tinubu to take responsibility as the country’s leader and address the sufferings of Nigerians occasioned by his policies since coming into power.

Atiku, who gave the advice in a message posted on his official verified X account on Sunday, said Tinubu should emulate the economic reforms embarked upon by the President of Argentina, Javier Milei, to take Nigeria out of the present hardship and poverty.

Atiku opined that while Milei, like Tinubu, inherited a disoriented and comatose economy, both leaders chose to apply different measures to recovery with Milei largely succeeding in turning things around for Argentina while Tinubu is still blaming past governments for Nigeria’s woes.

“I read a recent report in the Reuters titled: Argentina’s market double down on Milei as investors ‘start to believe’,” the PDP chieftain began.

“I took a keen interest in reading the report because I know quite well that Argentina and Nigeria closed the last quarter of the year 2023 on a similar path of economic downturn. In the case of Nigeria, a new government was installed at or about the middle of 2023, for Argentina, the new government came on board in December.

“Both leaders inherited a disoriented economy, but both applied different measures to recovery. President Javier Milei of Argentina was sworn into office on 10 December 2023. He inherited a worse condition than Nigeria’s.

“But what he did to return his country to a place where investors are ‘starting to believe’ should serve as a lesson to Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu.

“Nigeria is where we are today simply because of what Tinubu has done or did not do. His shifting the blame on the opposition and, even ridiculously, his predecessor, is needless and myopic. Market forces don’t play politics.

“They respond to your actions and inactions. President Milei’s major campaign promise was to re-position the Argentine economy after years of slow growth, high debt levels, triple-digit inflation (160% when he took over the Presidency in December 2023) and 40% poverty rate.

“His first task was to begin implementing measures to achieve greater macroeconomic stability and promote higher global competitiveness.

“He came into the office with a comprehensive stabilization plan, which seeks to implement far-reaching measures within the context of a market-oriented economy.

“He started off cutting government expenditure by cutting the size of government and wastages; blocked stealing of government funds, and attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through concessions, tax holidays, and improved ease of doing business.

“President Milei flies regular business class for all his travels and does not offer the presidential fleet of Argentina for his son’s birthday.

“Likewise, there is no settlement for his hangers-on and political allies through unwieldy and burdensome appointments to public offices.

“Argentina’s Milei did not build the largest government like Tinubu did at a time when our economy was and still on its knees.

“The examples set by President Milei are the requirement of leadership in a time when the economy has begun to fail the expectations of the people.

“The reforms so far implemented by the Tinubu administration are ad hoc and hurriedly put together without proper review.

“Ours is unlike Argentina’s Milei, who is sequencing his reforms. President Milei anticipates the after-reform shocks and admits that things will be tough for the people.

“But he is fully prepared for the aftershocks and has in place mitigating pills. He walks the talk. He makes sacrifices himself by giving up perks of office.

“It is not business-as-usual for the presidency while the people are called upon to make sacrifices. Argentina runs a lean government by reducing the number of ministries, privatizing nearly 40 state-owned enterprises, and reducing wasteful spending.

“Conversely, Tinubu in Nigeria increased the number of ministers and ministries and is spending enormous resources renovating houses for himself, his deputy, and the first lady.

“That is nothing short of Nero playing fiddle while Rome is on fire! Worse still, Tinubu has refused to roll up his sleeves and do the work that he signed up for.

“Instead, he and his team are preoccupied with behaving like Napoleon and Squealer, characters in the satire book Animal Farm, who made it a state policy scapegoating Snowball (the opposition) for their own failures arising from their ill-advised policies.

“I am attracted to the reforms in Argentina because Javier Milei’s stabilization plan bears a similar emblem with my Recover Nigeria Plan.

“It is a plan that I am more than willing to disclose details of its workings with the current government in order to take Nigeria out of the depth of hunger and anger that we find ourselves.

“The plan includes strategic steps we must take to recover the economy and make it stronger, dynamic, resilient, and competitive. We had outlined plans to relax the fiscal constraints facing us to include:

“Improving Spending Efficiency and Blocking Leakages

“Saving money through: a. A review of fiscal support for non-performing government enterprises and the privatization of those that can not sustain themselves.

b. Steps to improve spending efficiency through a gradual reduction in government recurrent expenditures, ensuring that those expenditures reflect higher levels of service delivery.

“Over the medium term, recurrent expenditures should not exceed 45% of the budget.

c. A review of government procurement processes to ensure high levels of transparency, competitiveness, and value-for-money and eliminate all leakages.

“Unless, and until there are clear-cut policies and pathway to economic rejuvenation predicated on a leadership led sacrifice, there will be discontentment, especially among the youths, which may find expression in protests and for which it will be silly to continue to blame the opposition for.”

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Zambia signs creditor agreement deal with China, India to resolve debt crisis

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President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia has announced the signing of an official creditor agreement with China and India that will help resolve the country’s debt crisis.

Hichilema, who made the announcement on Saturday, said the agreement would also help pave the way for the country to negotiate with private creditors.

Before signing the agreement, Zambia had struggled to revive its debt restructuring process after a deal to rework $3 billion Eurobonds was rejected by its official creditors, with international media reporting that China and other creditors did not believe that it offered comparable debt relief to that of bondholders.

Earlier on Friday, Minister of Finance, Situmbeko Musokotwane, had assured that the government was trying to clarify the meaning of a “comparable treatment” with bondholders.

However, while addressing a gathering during the Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni speaking people of Eastern Province, President Hichilema confirmed the signing of the agreement with the two Asian nations.

“On the official creditors’ side, the last two countries that had not signed, China and India, have now signed,” Hichilema said.

The President added that Zambia was now turning to the private creditors in a bid to address the debt issue because the had defaulted on its foreign debts in November 2020 and that its restructuring had been beset by delays.

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