Malawi police in Lilongwe on Tuesday arrested vocal social media activist, Manice Hale a naturalized American citizen of Malawian dissent – known on Facebook as Manice Abiti William Dawood – of United Transformation Movement (UTM) at the Kamuzu International Airport as she was about to board her flight back to her base in United States .
According to sources, she is being accused of falsifying information and insulting the President.
Police were searching her digital devices for information related to UTM.
“She objected to her devices being searched without a warrant but they told her that they do not care about laws as they have instructions from the corridors of power to implement.
Manice, a nurse, came to prominence after she told TImes TV last week that she left DPP and joined UTM after seeing that President Peter Mutharika who is her uncle is failing to implement the very things he promised and to do when she and others campaigned for him.
A few weeks ago Mutharika threatened that he will arrest anyone who talks against him, citing an earlier UTM rally where his sister in-law former first lady Callista Mutharika called him a Mtchona, meaning a person who has spent several years away from home.
The Presudent said he is ready to use Section 4 of the Protected Flag, Emblem and Names Act as Malawi laws prevent anyone from insulting the President.
Section 4 of the Protected Flag, Emblem and Names Act states that any person who does any act or utters any words or publishes or utters any writing calculated to or liable to insult, ridicule or to show disrespect to or with reference to the President, the National Flag, the Armorial Ensigns, the Public Seal, or any protected emblem or protected likeness, shall be liable to a fine of K250 000 and to imprisonment for two years.
Meanwhile, in response to the arrest of social media activist and vocal supporter of the United Transformation Movement (UTM) Manice Hale, popularly known as Manice Abiti William Dawood on Facebook, UTM-USA Diaspora Wing issued a statement condemning the arrest.
The statement jointly signed by interim chairperson Eddie Naming’ona and interim Secretary General Fatima Nkata, states that the primary concern of the wing is the safety of their member and that of her property.
The wing strongly believes that the arrest was “politically motivated” and appeals to the Malawi Government for her immediate release and the safe return of her communications devices which were confiscated upon her arrest.
Manice was taken to Area 30 Police Headquarters in Lilongwe where a crowd of UTM supporters including former First Lady Calista Mutharika has gathered to demand her release.
Manice was due to fly back to Maryland in US where she works as a nurse on Tuesday before she was picked by police at the airport