The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has condemned acts of violence among several political parties as the country approaches the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
In a statement issued yesterday, CCJP observes that there is lack of intra-party democracy in some of the major political parties, which it stated is unhealthy for peaceful political co-existence and meaningful political competition.
At the centre of the concerns raised by CCJP is the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) whose supporters it accused of orchestrating violence against the party’s opponents in the build up to their recently elective convention; the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which it has accused of not giving space to candidates to properly campaign in the run up to their convention; and the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) whose convention, according to CCJP, was characterised by violence.
The statement, signed by CCJP acting national coordinator Boniface Chibwana, further notes that the incidents of political violence and intolerance are a recipe for electoral setbacks and does not define the true spirit of democracy consolidation.
It reads in part: “We believe that at all times, constitutional freedoms of assembly and political choice should be jealously guarded. All political players should be accorded equal opportunities in this regard. Harassment of people who hold different political views, as it has been observed with the DPP cadets, is out of order and unlawful.”
CCJP also calls on the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to discharge its constitutional and statutory mandate in protecting rights of all political players without fear or favour.
In May, men painted in DPP colours were also seen roughing up the party’s then director of women, Patricia Kaliati, at Parliament when President Peter Mutharika delivered the State of the Nation Address.
But reacting to the sentiments in a telephone interview yesterday, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi laughed off the allegations, saying the CCJP does not need to play the role of police.
“Do they have evidence to that effect? The problem with wild allegations is that they are sometimes judgmental so there is nothing true. The party would not want to be associated with violence,” he said.
On his part, MCP spokesperson Reverend Maurice Munthali, said the party followed its rules and policies by giving everyone a chance to campaign for positions in the party at the convention.
He said: “We do not know what kind of time people needed unless they are having particular people in mind. The convention was not about particular people, it was for MCP. Even if people did not campaign, they had an opportunity to do so right at the convention so they do not have to blame MCP because they have certain people in mind.”
Munthali further said the party has always aligned itself with democratic principles.
Aford could not be reached for comment.