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MPs protest Mulanje arrests

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Member of Parliament (MP) for Rumphi East, Kamlepo Kalua, Wednesday protested against the arrest of 24 men and women in Mulanje District, after they reportedly blocked Blantyre Water Board (BWB) officials from getting access to Mulanje Mountain where the utility institution intends to tap water.

Nine people were arrested last Friday and they appeared before the Mulanje Magistrates’ Court on Monday and were denied bail.

They belong to a group called Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje (CPM).

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Fifteen others were arrested on suspicion that they caused commotion at the court after the nine were denied bail.

In an impromptu question to Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Cecilia Chazama, Kalua asked the minister to intervene in the saga, arguing the 24 had been arrested simply because they were seeking answers on the water project.

“The police in Mulanje are keeping women and children in custody when they were simply seeking answers on a water project in their area. Why keep children in police cells against our laws?” Kalua queried.

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However, Chazama clarified that the list she received from Mulanje Police showed that there were no children among those arrested.

Chazama read out names of the suspects who included five women and CPM Chairperson Ivory Kaliati and Secretary David Majeweta.

“From the list that I have, it shows that the youngest are only two who are aged 18. So, the issue of children being kept in police cells does not arise,” Chazama said.

Earlier, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Esther Mcheka-Chilenje, who was moderating deliberations, had ruled that the matter should be discussed today, arguing this was supposed to come as a formal question appearing on the Order Paper.

However, apart from Kalua, other MPs, including Chairperson of the Social Welfare Committee of Parliament Richard Chimwendo Banda, said the matter was supposed to be discussed right away.

But, Mcheka-Chilenje ruled that the matter should be further discussed today.

Last month, BWB signed a Memorandum of Understanding with some concerned members of Mulanje in a bid to pave the way for the project’s implementation.

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