In a typical old-habits-die-hard situation, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ferried some of its members in a government vehicle from Mzuzu to Chitipa where President Peter Mutharika held a public rally on Wednesday.
The development comes at the time the DPP administration is preaching reforms one of whose measures is to ensure separation of party and government functions.
We can report that the party used a Nissan Hard Body vehicle registration number MG 731 AF belonging to the Department of Forestry in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining to carry its supporters to the place of the rally in Chitipa.
But the party, the ministry and Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa have expressed ignorance of the matter.
Malawi News is in possession of video and photograph evidence of the DPP followers on the vehicle chanting songs of praise for their leader enroute to Chitipa.
Dressed in black coats and jerseys on top of party regalia, the party followers were first spotted in Chiweta Hills at around 08:30 aboard the vehicle.
Apparently sensing the presence of this reporter, the vehicle stopped to give way to the one this reporter had travelled in.
But we spotted the vehicle again around Wovwe in Karonga and Mwenilondo road blocks with the supporters chanting and ululating as it speeded past our vehicle.
About five kilometres away from Chitipa boma near Lufita Trading Centre, the party followers took off their coats and jerseys to reveal their full party regalia.
They proceeded with the trip to Chitipa boma and parked their vehicle in front of Kulima Gold depot around 10:50.
While some of the supporters rushed to restaurants ahead of the start of the rally, other female supporters stayed behind and Malawi News captured them grooming themselves in front of the mirrors of the vehicle.
When contacted on the use of the vehicle by the DPP, Secretary for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Kester Kaphaizi expressed ignorance over the matter but he pledged to investigate it.
“I don’t have all the information regarding all the vehicles in the ministry right now in terms of how they were used on particular dates,” said Kaphaizi giving Malawi News a go ahead to publish the story if it had the evidence.
DPP Secretary General Ecklen Kudontoni and the party’s Regional Governor for the North Kenneth Sanga also expressed ignorance over the use of the vehicle by the party.
“It could have been quite naive for us to carry supporters all the way from Mzuzu to Chitipa. I don’t think that is in order,” said Sanga.
Told of incidences in the past when the party has used government vehicles for its functions, Sanga said:
“We have never done that before. We never arranged for supporters to travel to Chitipa from that far except for the women who travelled in a blue coaster. I suspect that this might be the work of our rivals who are so bent at discrediting our image.”
Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa said he is mandated to release a few government vehicles from various departments and ministries to ferry a selection of civil servants to developmental rallies and not political rallies.
He said no request was made to his office to release any government vehicle for the Chitipa rally.
“I did not see nor did I get any request to my office to ferry DPP supporters to Chitipa,” said Mkondiwa.
In August 2015 the party was also embroiled in abuse of power controversy after grabbing an official vehicle used by Deputy Mayor for Mzuzu City Frazer Chunga and used it for party functions in the region.
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