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VIOLENCE ESCALATES: CSOs demand IG’s head

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By Pilirani Kachinziri & Yohane Symon:

VICTIM OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE—Govati

Suspected ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Cadets continue unleashing terror on opposition political party supporters, as May 21 2019 tripartite elections campaign gains momentum.

There have been pockets of political violence reported especially in the Southern Region, which is DPP’s stronghold, as opposition parties are trying to make in-roads.

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But no one has been arrested in connection with the incidents.

Analysts have since faulted the government for failing to address the situation, which, if left unchecked, can degenerate into conflict.

Monday morning, Edward Govati, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporter and fierce government critic on social media, was brutally assaulted by suspected DPP Cadets at his Kanjedza Township house in Blantyre.

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He sustained bruises and cuts on the face as he struggled to overpower the two assailants.

“As I was trying to enter the gate, I saw some people following me. They did not demand anything but said “Mukutokota kwambiri, tithana nanu. (You are talking too much, we will deal with you)… They threw me down and punched me in the face,” Govati said.

He has since refused to report the matter to the police, saying doing so is a waste of time.

“I recognised one. He is a DPP Cadet and stays in Ndirande [Township]. Reporting the matter to police won’t change anything. It is a waste of time,” Govati said.

In Mangochi District, some UTM supporters were on Sunday afternoon assaulted by suspected DPP Cadets.

The victims met their fate at M’baluku on their way to Katuli where UTM was expected to hold a political rally.

In a video clip, which has gone viral on social media, the perpetrators are seen undressing the two victims, one of them a woman who was wearing UTM T-shirt.

However, Mangochi Police publicist, Roderick Maida, Monday said they are yet to arrest the suspects.

“The victims said the vehicle had a DPP flag hanging inside it. But they did not give particulars of their attackers. So, we are still investigating the matter,” Maida said.

The incidents come barely a week after Member of Parliament for Mulanje South, Bon Kalindo, who is also UTM member, was beaten by people believed to be DPP Cadets in Mulanje District.

Kalindo, who was admitted to Blantyre Adventist Hospital, suffered a broken nose and had a blood clot in the head.

MCP secretary general, Eisenhower Mkaka, has condemned the attacks unleashed on opposition party members.

He alleged that these cadres have been trained by the State House.

“It cannot be difficult for us to deal with them. We dealt with UDF Young Democrats. We can deal with these Cadets but we are just being democratic. …When people are tired, they do not fear the barrel,” he said.

Mkaka questioned why the State House is not condemning perpetrators of political violence.

Presidential Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, said Mkaka’s accusations were misguided, as MCP members have been beating up each other over internal politics.

“They fight even at the party’s headquarters. Last year, MCP thugs beat up DPP monitors in Chikwawa during a by-election. Recently, MCP members hacked each other in several Central Region constituencies over how the party conducted its primary elections. All this is on record.

“Is Mr Mkaka saying these MCP cases of violence are from the State House? Does that make sense? Is he asking President Mutharika to address violence being perpetrated by MCP on its own members?… Definitely Mkaka should address his call to his own party president,” he said.

He said the allegation that Mutharika has not condemned political savagery is false.

“President Mutharika has been advising his party supporters to restrain themselves even when provoked. He has said this at all party gatherings he has had with DPP Cadets. The latest call for clean politics was the case he made during the New Year’s Day message,” Kalilani said.

UTM director of publicity, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, said the party is not happy that their members are the most targeted by the perpetrators of the violence.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition has called for the resignation of Police Inspector General, Rodney Jose, accusing the police of failing to apprehend perpetrators.

“On behalf of all patriotic Malawians, we demand for (sic) your resignation as Inspector General of Police with immediate effect. Our call is based on the fact that you have allowed the Malawi Police Service to play partisan politics and tolerated political violence. On numerous occasions, the Malawi Police Service under your leadership, has failed to rise to the occasion and provide the needed decisive leadership in addressing the political violence that is becoming more pronounced as we head towards the May 2019 Tripartite Elections,” reads the letter.

Malawi Electoral Commission spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, said any form of political violence has to be condemned.

“We understand that these acts of violence will have a bearing on how the elections will be conducted. The elections have to be conducted in a free and fair manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission of the Evangelical Association of Malawi through its chairperson, Zacc Kawalala, Monday released a statement condemning political violence.

“The commission has noted with concern the resurfacing of political violence in the nation as the country is preparing for the forthcoming tripartite elections. There have been reports of people being harassed for belonging to other political parties or holding different political views,” reads the statement.

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