Opposition political parties in Thyolo have accused traditional leaders of fuelling interparty disagreements through favouritism when allocating venues for campaign rallies.
Officials from the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made the remarks on Saturday at a meeting by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust to support establishment of conflict management structures in Thyolo North Constituency.
UDF constituency governor Marko Abraham said some cases of political violence during campaigns could be avoided if chiefs were impartial.
Abraham said some chiefs were deliberately denying opposition parties access to venues for campaign rallies in favour of the ruling party, a tendency he said angers supporters of other parties.
“Most political clashes have been orchestrated by chiefs through their favouritism in the name of serving the government of the day. We know it is greed driven,” he said.
Abraham said opposition parties have often resorted to disrupting rallies of the ‘favoured party’ to protest the special treatment, which end in fighting. He asked chiefs to stop this behaviour for a violence-free campaign.
His DPP counterpart, Byson Msosa, stressed the need for chiefs’ civic education on their roles and responsibilities.
He said most chiefs in the country do not have an idea about their roles and responsibilities in elections vis-à-vis serving government of the day.
“I urge Nice to consider organising this training [for the chiefs] before the official launch of the campaign. Otherwise, your calls for an end to politically-motivated violence will not bear fruit,” he said.
Nice district civic education officer for Thyolo Moses Kaunda said his organisation is already sensitising chiefs on violence-free campaigns.
“Denying opposition parties access to venues is in conflict with electoral practices and laws and, therefore, illegal,” said Kaunda.