By Pilirani Kachinziri:
Fight ensued between governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters during parliamentary aspirants’ debate in Nsanje Central Constituency on Tuesday.
Reports indicate that several people, including a Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) official, were injured in the course of the running battles between the two warring factions.
The debate had Francis Kasaila, who is also Minister of Trade, representing DPP, MCP’s Kaffa Mandevana, United Democratic Front’s Laston Katole and Esmi Bande of Democratic People’s Congress (Depeco) .
UTM candidate Nzeru Maibeki did not show up for the debate at Mpasa Community Day Secondary School.
The debate, which National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust organised, was aimed at giving candidates in their manifestos.
One of the witnesses, Robert Amos, said the fight broke out when DPP supporters came to the scene dressed in party regalia.
“The supporters [wearing DPP colours] entered the hall and started chanting songs which provoked opposition supporters.
“The situation turned volatile when one of the DPP supporters beat up an MCP supporter. The latter supporters mobilised themselves and retaliated,” he said.
Another witness, Fredo Alfonso, said police officials, who were outnumbered, failed to calm the situation and the fight spilled over to Tengani Trading Centre as people scampered for their dear lives.
“It was a fierce fight. One person was stabbed on the stomach and sustained a deep cut on the lip while others sustained injuries from the missiles that were thrown,” Alfonso said.
Nice District Education Officer, Kondwani Malunga, who was the overseer of the debates, faulted DPP supporters for violating code fo conduct for the debate that no supporters should wear party colours.
“DPP supporters came here [dressed] in party colours. They were boasting that they are in government. This provoked the fury of MCP supporters. Let me emphasise that it was DPP supporters who provoked other supporters,” he said.
Malunga, however, said it seems there was already bad blood between the two parties. In 2017 there were also pockets of violence between supporters of the two parties during Nsanje Lalanje by-election which was won by MCP candidate Lawrence Sitolo.
He said the debate was cancelled but would be rescheduled to another venue.
MCP candidate Mandevana confirmed that one of their supporters was stabbed with a knife on the stomach and a woman who works for Malawi Electoral Commission was beaten in the mayhem.
“Several people have been injured but up to date [yesterday] no one has been arrested. All the police did was to fire teargas to disperse the crowd,” he said.
DPP regional governor for the Southern Region, Charles Mchacha, said he was not aware of the incident.
“It is bad. I didn’t receive any report. Let me check,” he said.
Mec spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, said they have established that one constituency civic and voter education assistant for Nsanje Central was beaten up.
“But we are yet to get more details [in terms of] under what circumstances this happened and what provoked the situation,” he said.
Police were evasive to give out information while Southern Region Police spokesperson Ramsey Mushani said he was away for other duties and promised to return with information later in the day.
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