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Lazarus Chakwera slams Inspector General, DPP over violence

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By Mandy Pondani & Faith Kamtambe:

VICTIMISED—Katanga sheds tears after narrating her ordeal

Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader, Lazarus Chakwera, has criticised Malawi Police Service and governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over rising incidents of politically motivated acts of violence targeting the opposition and the government’s critics.

In a statement released after a telephone conversation he had with Inspector General (IG) of police, Rodney Jose, on Monday, Chakwera expressed dissatisfaction with the police for its failure to bring the culprits to book.

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In video clips making rounds on social media, self-acclaimed DPP operatives commit the offences in full view of police officers, but no arrests have been made.

Chakwera observes that the police remain uncommitted to act and protect lives of Malawians because the culprits feel immune from prosecution because of their DPP connection.

Chakwera cited the recent assault of UTM youth director and Mulanje-South Member of Parliament Bon Kalindo and MCP supporter Edward Govati.

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“It is not as though these acts of violence by ruling party cadets have happened in secret to necessitate a long investigation before the perpetrators can be brought to justice. The ruling party’s culture of violence is a clear and present danger to the public’s safety and its confidence in the police’s ability to guarantee security…,” the statement reads in part.

Chakwera also accused President Peter Mutharika, who is also Commander-in- Chief, of losing his grip on the country’s affairs and the DPP, thus perpetuating lawlessness.

“It is the ruling party cadets who have severely beaten up Mr Govati of MCP at his [Kanjedza Township] home last night in Blantyre. It is the ruling party cadets who stripped members of UTM in Mangochi. It is the ruling party cadets who threatened me and my delegation with violence and barred us from attending the John Chilembwe Memorial Day in Chiradzulu District [on January 15 2019]. Their litany of crimes is long, and it is a shame that there have been no investigations or arrests to end this lawless culture,” Chakwera said.

MCP director of publicity, Maurice Munthali, in an interview yesterday, said Mutharika has lost credibility to rule this country; hence the need for Malawians to entrust Chakwera with the country’s leadership during the May 21 tripartite elections.

National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, confirmed that Jose and Chakwera spoke on the phone, saying the IG has assured all political parties in the country of professional work.

Kadadzera said police have opened a file against Kalindo’s assaulters in Mulanje and perpetrators of the Mangochi incident.

“There is another case of Mr Govati in Blantyre. It has not yet been reported to the police but we will take it upon ourselves to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

DPP spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, has distanced the party from attacks on opposition party followers.

Meanwhile, some women drawn from all political parties have given Mutharika and Jose seven days to respond to issues surrounding political violence against women.

During a cross-political party conference held in Lilongwe yesterday, the women singled out suspected DPP Cadets’ assault of Veronica Katanga for wearing UTM regalia in Mangochi recently.

In a petition which she read out on behalf of the women, Lucy Mauluku, who represented aspiring independent parliamentary candidates, demanded the immediate arrest of people that were seen in a video clip harassing Katanga.

“We demand that the First Citizen as our He-for-She Champion should live up to his responsibility and condemn in the strongest term any form of political violence and that there be no sacred cows. Malawian women in politics shall march and deriver a petition to the Head of State, the IG, the Ombudsman and Malawi Human Rights Commission within the next seven days,” reads part of their petition.

Representatives of political parties, including MCP, People’s Party, DPP, United Democratic Front and UTM were present.

Mary Chilima, wife to Vice-President and UTM leader Saulos Chilima, UTM secretary general Patricia Kaliati and the Parliamentary Women Caucus Chairperson, Jessie Kabwila also spoke against the violent acts women are facing in the country.

DPP deputy director of women, Yacinta Chikaonda, and MCP women director, Patricia Mkanda, represented their parties.

There were a few DPP members as opposed to representatives of the other parties.

Katanga said, as a result of the assault, her husband has now left her with three kids.

When the meeting ended, some people dressed in DPP regalia came and sung songs against their fellow women, claiming Saulos Chilima left the governing party on his own.

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