The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), a grouping of Catholic bishops in the country, has condemned reported cases of politically-motivated violence in the country ahead of the October 17 by-elections in three wards and three constituencies.
ECM chairperson Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa said in a statement it was disheartening to note numerous cases of violence motivated by politics and at the same time bad conduct by some political party followers.
He said Malawians are known as peace loving people; hence, the same should be reflected in their actions. He said violence should be condemned in strongest terms as barbaric.
Said Msusa: “Malawi will not develop if we are disorganised and divided into party leadership, regional leadership and into tribal leadership. This is not Malawi. Let us all get united.”
The ECM chairperson, who is also archbishop of the Archdiocese of Blantyre, has since asked political party leaders to openly condemn and denounce the violent activities some of their party followers are engaging in.
He said: “Elected leaders are for all Malawians, therefore they should strive to preach peace and at the same time encourage people to live in harmony and that should be first demonstrated by them.”
The Catholic bishop’s condemnation comes against a background of two recent violent conducts on the political front.
Politically-orchestrated violence first reared its ugly head last month in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency, one of the areas where Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will be holding by-elections. Followers of opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) fought in the area, stirring tension.
On Saturday, panga-wielding and stone-throwing youths clad in DPP regalia also attacked MCP president and leader of Opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera at the Gonapamuhanya ceremony in Bolero, Rumphi.
MEC will hold parliamentary by-elections in Lilongwe Msozi North, Lilongwe South East and Nsanje Lalanje constituencies and three local government elections in Mayani North Ward in Dedza North Constituency, Mtsiriza Ward in Lilongwe City West Constituency and Ndirande Makata Ward in Blantyre Malabada Constituency
DPP and MCP have engaged in a blame-game on the Rumphi violence with the governing party laying it on MCP and MCP, saying DPP was responsible.
Traditional leaders in the organising committee of the event also linked the violence to DPP supporters who were chased from the venue for wearing party colours contrary to the event’s dress code.