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HRDC accuses DPP of political violence

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By Yohane Symon & Jameson Chauluka:

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has accused governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of instigating political violence in the country.

HRDC’s statement has come following reports that UTM publicity director and parliamentary candidate for Nsanje-West, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, was assaulted by alleged DPP supporters in Nsanje on March 31 2019.

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In a statement released Wednesday and signed by HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence, the organisation condemned the alleged attack.

“We have it on concrete authority that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets are, once again, alleged to be behind this assault of Dr Joseph Chidanti Mulunga. We also have it on record that despite Dr Malunga registering a complaint with Malawi Police Service (MPS) and naming the alleged ringleader of the suspects on March 31 2019, the very day the alleged assault took place, no one has been arrested, let alone been brought in for questioning,” the statement reads in part.

“We, at HRDC, are disgusted at the impunity blessed by the current regime. We also have it on solid authority that the DPP cadets have been let off the leash to reign havoc on anything and anyone in opposition.”

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HRDC further alleges that DPP has paralysed some security agencies such as MPS for them not to take action on the cadets that are said to be assaulting people in the country.

HRDC has since urged Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to investigate and disqualify all candidates found guilty of perpetrating violence.

National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, dismissed HRDC’s accusations, saying MPS works without political interference.

He said the community policing department has engaged DPP and UTM supporters through Multiparty Liaison Committee to mediate the Nsanje tension.

“We understand that the issue started because the two parties were removing flags belonging to each other. So, what we are doing is discussing the matter at constituency level. But Malawians should be aware that we are non-partisan. We are handling some cases whose suspects are from all parties in the country, including DPP, so we can’t take sides,” he said.

Chidanti Malunga confirmed that he has not yet heard anything from the police on the matter.

“The issue was to do with the flags. As you know, we are in the campaign period, so the DPP cadets were removing our flags from the constituency because one of their top officials was visiting [the area]. I said ‘no’ and that is when they started roughing me up,” he said.

But DPP Southern Region Governor, Charles Mchacha, described Chidanti Malunga and HRDC’s remarks as ‘nonsense’.

“It is nonsense in the sense that Chidanti Malunga is the one removing our flags wherever he sees them in the constituency. Even on that day, he was with his men who were removing our flags,” he said.

Mec Media, Voter and Civic Education Committee Chairperson, Moffat Banda, said he was unable to comment on the matter as he was not at his office. He, however, condemned violence in general.

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