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Activists trash Bingu National Stadium stampede report

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Human rights activists have faulted a report by the task force which President Peter Mutharika instituted to inquire into the circumstances that led to a stampede at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) on Independence Day celebrations.

Eight people—including seven children—died as people scrambled for entry into the stadium to watch a game between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers as part of the Independence Day celebrations.

In report submitted to Mutharika on Tuesday, the committee, which was led by Principal Secretary in the Office of President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi, faults the police, sports department officials, stadium officials and District Health Office’s first-aid personnel.

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It has also blamed the accident on poor planning, poor coordination among stakeholders, weak stadium access control and parental negligence.

But Director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Timothy Mtambo said presidential task forces and commissions of inquiry in the country are fast becoming mere tools for making victimised people forget their misery.

He said the report only talks about obvious things which were discussed in the public even before it was established.

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“It was obvious that there was poor organisation. It was obvious that the gates were opened late. We talked about these issues even before the task force was established but we expected concrete recommendations and findings to say the following were supposed to do this but they did not,” he said.

Mtambo said the task force has just spread the blame across the board so that no one is held accountable.

Another human rights defender Billy Mayaya said the report should have come up with specific individuals and offices which were in the wrong.

“The task force did not do its job. The report was supposed to mention specific individuals and police who played role in the stampede. The gates opened late but who ordered it? Just spreading the blame as they have done is unrealistic,” he said.

But both Mayaya and Mtambo said the government must ensure that all the affected families in the stampede are adequately compensated as soon as possible.

Executive Director of Church and Society in the Livingstonia S y n o d o f t h e C C A P M o s e s Mkadawire said at the end of the day, there was one person who was in charge of the whole planning process and that person must he held accountable.

He said the report should have identified the person be it a Cabinet minister or a principal secretary and not just spreading the blame to everyone.

The organising committee of the celebrations was headed by Minister of Trade Joseph Mwanamvekha.

So far, no one has faced disciplinary action. When he received the report on Wednesday, Mutharika said he will look at the report and make a decision.

Dausi said.

He also said some of the issues raised in Chakwera’s letter could better be handled by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Dausi, however, had a torrid task to justify whether it was DPP speaking or it was government.

“This is government speaking. The MCP is trying to drag members of the diplomatic community into partisan politics. Since he has written to the diplomatic community, we are responding as government,” he said.

Kasaila said what MCP has done is an indication that the party is desperate.

“It is very clear that our colleagues in MCP are becoming desperate. They are just creating the issue. They thought that people of the Shire Valley are up for sale. But these people have principles,” he said.

MCP Deputy Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka, said some government departments the DPP officials are suggesting are yet to resolve issues relating to MCP.

“You may recall that there is an issue of violence that erupted in Mzuzu, the police are yet to conclude that issue. There was a plan to set our headquarters on fire, the police are also yet to finish their investigations. For this issue, we thought it is right to alert the donors. We are talking about someone’s life here,” Mkaka said.

In the communication, Chakwera said the DPP members asked Sitolo to either receive K100 million and defect from the MCP to become an independent candidate or resign and accept a diplomatic posting to unnamed duty station and K50 million on top.

The other offer to Sitolo which Chakwera claimed is that President Peter Mutharika would be offering the candidate an MP salary and related benefits if he does not contest.

In the letter, Chakwera is requesting an immediate intervention by the diplomatic community by helping investigating the matter and ask Mutharika to stop what the people are doing.

Chakwera said the people involved in the intimidation of Sitolo were businessman Leston Mulli, parliamentarian Noel Masangwi, DPP Regional Governor for the Southern Region Charles Mchacha and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa.

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