Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, George Chaponda: People should fart responsiblyJustice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, George Chaponda, tells Zachimalawi that the Malawi government has no plans to criminalise public farting, only saying that those who pollute the air with "products or by-products produced through artificial means, and not bodily processes" will face the law.
Chaponda has come under a spate of criticism for recently implying that government plans to table a bill that will criminalise public farting, and other offenses relating to air pollution.
This contravenes what Justice and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary, Anthony Kamanga, told Zachimalawi on Friday that the proposed law does not, "in any way", cover public farting. Kamanga added that punishing citizens who fart in public would violate human rights and put Malawi at pits against international human rights protocols, charters and principles.
Chaponda, on his part, told Zachimalawi: "I was quoted out of context. Let me state clearly the government of Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika has no plans to victimise Malawians and will, therefore, not put in place any act violating human rights. I was quoted completely out of context".
The minister, however, asked Malawians to exercise caution when farting. He said it would be inconsiderate to fart in places such as commuter minibuses, as doing so violates other people's right to "clean air, and a clean environment".
Chaponda's earlier sentiments had raised fears among Malawians that government was out to victimise innocent citizens. Others warned that the said law would affect the country's nascent tourism industry, and industry already grappling with low patronage, high tarriffs, operational challenges, and over-dependency on government departments who patronise such institutions through conferences, seminars, and international meetings.
Kamanga, on the other hand, told Zachimalawi: "It is not true that there is any such proposed law; what I know is that we are having something that will help Malawi deal with air pollution problems. This, to my understanding, does not cover public farting."
Asked if Malawians and, in deed, visitors to Malawi were free to fart anyhow, anywhere, anytime, both Chaponda and Kamanga just laughed, wishing this Blogger well.
Thus ends controversy over one of Malawi's controversial issues: farting.
Culturally, Malawians do not fart openly as doing so is considered a taboo.
However, in Lakeshore districts such as Salima, Nkhatabay, and Mangochi, community members even marvel at white tourists who fart. Community members seem to be abused by a white man or woman who farts loudly and, often, such behaviour will attract a smile or two from the locals.