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Lazarus Chakwera says no to intimidation

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By Jameson Chauluka:

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Southern Region governor, Charles Mchacha, has dragged UTM into the case of political intimidation registered at Luchenza Trading Centre in Thyolo District on Saturday, claiming that its supporters dressed like the governing party’s cadets to tarnish its image.

However, UTM has trashed DPP’s accusations.

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The Daily Times had asked Mchacha what DPP knows about the conduct of the cadets who blocked the road with stones and vehicles to prevent Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader, Lazarus Chakwera, from holding a whistle-stop rally while in transit to Mulanje Pasani Constituency.

The suspected cadets openly and defiantly said Chakwera could not pass through the area where President Peter Mutharika, who is DPP’s leader, once served as Member of Parliament. The cadets said the area is DPP’s home.

Mchacha condemned the incident, saying the party does not subscribe to any forms of political violence.

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“It is important to note that as elections are getting closer, political parties are working without resting to tarnish the image of their opponents and what has happened in Mulanje is nothing other than UTM propaganda…

“We understand that Mec has not yet opened campaign period for the forthcoming tripartite elections. However, the DPP leadership has not barred any political party from conducting a rally and this is a unique situation…Let me say it here that the UTM supporters dressed in DPP regalia wanted to tarnish the image of DPP. DPP would like to distance itself from what happened in Mulanje,” Mchacha said in a statement made available to The Daily Times.

UTM leader and State Vice-President Saulos Chilima broke away from DPP last year to form the opposition party.

However, UTM spokesperson, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, dismissed DPP’s accusations.

“Everyone knows that there are people who say ‘this area is a no-go-zone’ and, fortunately, people know that it is only DPP that can do that. To say it is UTM is unfortunate. They must not shift the blame. There is nothing like a no-go zone. An election is a competition of ideas. Let people campaign freely,” Chidanti-Malunga said.

Speaking after the incident at Milonga Community Day Secondary School Ground in Mulanje after circumventing the cadets’ roadblock, Chakwera said he would not be intimidated by anyone on his campaign trail.

“I am not afraid and will not be intimidated by anyone. I came here confidently because this is my home. Malawi is my home and nobody can draw boundaries for me. I was smiling at everyone even those wearing blue T-shirts and they smiled back,” he said.

Chakwera condemned the death in police custody of the key suspect in the murder of a 14-year-boy with albinism Goodson Makanjira, Lule Buleya.

“Someone was close to revealing where people take body parts of people with albinism to. Now this is bad,” he said.

Chakwera promised a five-star hotel and an airport in Mulanje as a way of revamping the tourism sector in the district.

He also pledged to find a lasting solution of age-old land woes in Mulanje, revamping agriculture and finding ready markets for farm produce.

Speaking earlier, Chakwera’s running mate, Sidik Mia, urged people in Mulanje to vote irrespective of their tribes, saying everyone in the country, including those in Mulanje, faces similar problems such as hunger and poverty.

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