UTM Party director of publicity Joseph Chidanti Malunga has formally lodged a complaint to Nsanje District Commissioner (DC) stating that police are yet to arrest perpetrators of his alleged assault reported last week.
In a letter to the DC dated April 2 2019 copied to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and the Inspector General (IG) of Police Rodney Jose, Malunga protests about the authorities’ alleged failure to make a headway in dealing with the incident that happened on March 31 when suspected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members allegedly assaulted him for refusing to allow the removal of UTM Party flags.
In his letter, Malunga, who is seeking to retain the Nsanje South West Constituency parliamentary seat in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, alleges that some DPP members set out to remove UTM Party flags along Khulubvi Highway (between Bangula and Nsanje) when Malunga tried to prevent them, leading to his alleged assault.
“With all the information about the suspects, surprisingly, the police have not yet apprehended the individuals. It is impossible for me to conduct campaign rallies in an area where my opponents can assault at will and walk scot-free,” he said.
Political violence and removal of campaign materials are classified as offences in both the new Political Parties Act and the code of conduct for political parties.
The reported Nsanje violence comes days after the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn), in its third periodic pre-election observation report for 13 districts covering March 11 to 24, recorded the proliferation of political violence cases as elections approach.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Malunga blamed both the Nsanje DC’s office and the police for what he described as dilly-dallying.
He said: “I mentioned names of the suspects in my statement to police, but surprisingly no one has been picked. This is a serious criminal case which also borders on the conduct of elections. I presented the matter even to the IG and told him of my fears because now I cannot campaign freely.”
In a telephone interview, Nsanje acting DC Bissai Mtayamanja said the office was yet to process Malunga’s complaint as it is overwhelmed by the floods response.
He said: “But this week we are planning to present this case to the electoral body.
@However, I must also state that electoral stakeholders in Nsanje last week met to discuss the same matter.”
But MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the electoral body received Malunga’s complaint.
He said: “I can confirm that we have received that letter and we are acting on it. The multiparty liaison committee in Nsanje has been advised to investigate the matter and report accordingly.
“All the parties mentioned [in the matter] should be heard. All people who have complaints should lodge those complaints with MEC in writing.”
Responding to our query on the matter, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said: “It is true that the matter was reported to Nsanje Police Station. To resolve the flags issue once and for all, police referred the matter to the multiparty liaison committee which I am told convened its meeting and the issues were adequately addressed.”
During a meeting with members of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) in Lilongwe in February this year, Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose conceded that his charges could have done better in handling some of the political violence cases that took place in their full view.
In February, The Nation also reported another incident of political violence in Nsanje South Constituency where unidentified people smashed a vehicle belonging to independent candidate Lamozani Juma Mahommed. n