By Jameson Chauluka:
Police and some government officials on Saturday saved Balaka West Member of Parliament (MP), Patricia Shanil Dzimbiri, from being chased from a function which Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) and Minister of Agriculture Joseph Mwanamvekha hosted to launch relief maize distribution exercise at Kankao Trading Centre in Balaka District.
Before Mwanamvekha arrived at the venue, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters, led by Balaka District governor, Francis Mangadzuwa, instructed some chiefs who attended the function to inform Dzimbiri that she was not welcome at the event because of her association with United Transformation Movement.
However, Dzimbiri said she could not be forced out of the government function, further blaming the DPP for failing to differentiate government from party events.
Following her refusal, tension grew such that police and the government officials negotiated with the DPP supporters to allow Dzimbiri to stay because it was a government event.
The DPP supporters had, then, started singing provocative songs while others threatened to assault Dzimbiri and her supporters if they stayed put.
Eventually, the DPP officials ordered the removal of Dzimbiri and other politicians from the list of speakers at the event and the former first lady was excluded.
In an interview, Mangadzuwa defended his action, saying Dzimbiri could not be allowed to attend the function because according to Mangadzuwa, Dzimbiri castigates DPP which has brought development projects to her constituency.
“We did not want her here because she insults the DPP leadership. She has to be aware that we are in the government and we are responsible for bringing development to all areas including her constituency; so, we will not allow anybody to castigate our leadership,” Mangadzuwa said.
In a separate interview, Shanil blamed DPP for politicising development projects which Parliament approves.
She challenged DPP to buy its own maize and distribute to the people instead of using Dodma maize.
“There is no way I could be pushed [out] by the DPP supporters because this is my constituency. It is unfortunate that the DPP wants to be using people’s suffering for campaign purposes. This is very unfortunate because some of us will always speak without being intimidated,” Shanil said.
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