President Peter Mutharika went to town on Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera Tuesday night, accusing him of perpetrating violence ahead of the fresh presidential election.
But the accusations—without evidence—against a man, who could be his main rival in the fresh election, got an angry reaction from the MCP leader’s camp.
In his address, Mutharika alleged that Chakwera is encouraging “acts of violence” by ordering his followers to “catch and kill” people thought to be collecting national identity cards (IDs) that are crucial in the voting process.
The address came at the height of rumours of bloodsuckers and resurgence of political violence in some parts of the country as well as the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak that has so far attacked eight and killed one of them.
Reacting to the President’s sentiments, MCP secretary
Mutharika of smearing his political rivals to gain political mileage and appear like he means well for Malawians in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic that has since halted political momentum for the fresh polls. general Eisenhower Mkaka accused
Mkaka, speaking on behalf of Chakwera, reminded Mutharika to watch what he says in public and project himself as a leader.
“That just tells you something about DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] and when Mutharika makes an accusation of this nature, he as President ought to talk from an informed position.”
Mkaka also challenged Mutharika to bring to justice Chakwera if he is behind pockets of politically-linked violence in some parts of the Central Region, a stronghold of MCP.
He said: “If he indeed knows that Chakwera is involved in this matter, he has the security agencies [at his disposal], why not deploy them to arrest Chakwera? This is a baseless and useless allegation.”
But presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani said in a separate interview last evening that the President does not speak without a firm basis, adding that Mutharika stands by what he said on Tuesday.
On why the government has not reported the matter to police for immediate action, the presidential aide said the police were part of the same government.
“You may wish to know that the police are on top of this issue. Investigations are going on very well and more than 100 people have so far been arrested in connection with these crimes. The suspects are cooperating,” Kalilani said.
Acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa could not be drawn to comment on any investigations against Chakwera, advising The Nation to engage National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera who also refused to speak on the matter.
Kadadzera, however, said the law enforcers have so far arrested ‘scores’ of people linked to the killings of suspected bloodsuckers in Chitipa, Mzimba, Kasungu and Mchinji districts, among others.
He also warned all would-be offenders to desist from the act
warning that the long arm of the law would soon catch up with them.
Meanwhile, social and governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the President’s speech left a lot to be desired as many Malawians did not expect him to politicise the blood sucking saga.
On his part, Chancellor College-based political s c i ent i s t Mus t apha Hussein suggested that the wrangle was purely political amid the current Covid-19 context, where every political actor wants to maximise their influence to show Malawians who is their “messiah”.
The two commentators also urged collective national response to the Covid-19 crisis which has come at a tense political moment as the country is gearing to hold fresh elections as ordered by the ConCourt in February.
Reports of bloodsuckers tend to heighten in the run-up to elections. Prior to the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, reports of bloodsuckers were also rife mostly in the Southern Region districts regarded as the stronghold of DPP.