DPP blamed for stadium tragedy


Details have emerged that organisers of Independence Day celebrations rejected advice from the police and Bingu National Stadium officials to open gates at 6am for fear that ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) women and cadets would not get seats in the facility.

A source privy to the discussions said the committee had sent vehicles from Lilongwe Water Board and Escom to mobilise women and party cadres and feared that stadium would be full before their arrival.

“Actually, when the gates were opened at 10am, there was an order to close them and they were closed after some people had already got in because the organisers feared the large crowd of people outside would fill all the seats in the 41,000 seat capacity stadium,” the source said.


However, main organising committee chairperson, Joseph Mwanamvekha, said his committee did not make such an order.

Mwanamvekha refused to comment further saying Information Minister, Nicholas Dausi, was the right person to comment.

“In government, we have one spokesperson so he is the right person to give out information. We don’t want to give contradictory statements on this tragic issue. We have lost lives and we need to be careful. However, the truth will come out,” Mwanamvekha said.


On Sunday, Mwanamvekha attended the funeral of one of the victims.

Dausi, however, could not be reached for comment on Monday but on Sunday he asked for patience, saying the government was preoccupied with giving the victims decent burial ceremonies.

“We want to get to the bottom of this issue, so give us time,” Dausi said.

Another source at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) said President Peter Mutharika has ordered a commission of inquiry into the stampede that also left 68 people injured.

The source said the OPC is putting together names of those to sit in the inquiry.

Dausi neither confirmed nor disputed this but said the government was doing everything possible to get to the bottom of the issue.

“We are listening to any ideas, any opinions on how best to get to the bottom of this. As government, we want to have a full report on what really caused the stampede and how best it could have been prevented,” Dausi said.

But as we went to press, Presidential Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, had issued a statement indicating that Mutharika has set up a Task Force to probe the tragedy and report back within two weeks.

The committee is being chaired by OPC Principal Secretary (Administration), Zangazanga Chikhosi. Other members include: Secretary for Home Affairs Sam Madula, Secretary for Sports Joseph Mwandidya and a Football Association of Malawi (Fam) representative.

Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate, Dr Steven Kayuni, is its secretary.

A police preliminary report also blames the late opening of the gates for the stampede and says the committee rejected advice from the law enforcers to open the gates earlier.

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