- Says opposition harvesting what they sowed
- Experts fault APM, DPP; call for action
Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi has subtly justified the ongoing political violence cases ahead of the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election tentatively set for June 23, saying the opposition is reaping what it sowed.
Reacting to calls from political analysts and youth groups for President Peter Mutharika and his governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to show leadership by clamping down on the spate of political violence, the minister—who is DPP publicity secretary—said opposition parties crying foul now were responsible for the radicalisation of youths during post-May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections protests.
In an interview yesterday, Dausi said: “Are they [opposition] not the ones who killed a police officer at Msundwe in Lilongwe? Are they not the people that torched houses and buildings in Mzuzu, Karonga and many other places?
“Are they not the ones who dressed in berets written Osaopa? [Don’t be afraid].
“They are the ones behind the radicalisation of youths and are now just harvesting the seeds of what they sow.
“We [DPP] are a peaceful people and we have not fought back after being attacked several times. It is very illogical, wrong to say that we are perpetrating violence.”
The minister could not continue with the interview even after being asked what assurance he would give Malawians as head of internal security. Further efforts to get back to him proved futile as he did not pick our calls.
Dausi’s sentiments were echoed by Mutharika’s spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani who said opposition parties alongside Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) jointly organised post-election demonstrations that at times turned violent with DPP members on the receiving end.
He said: “The opposition politicians praised the violent demonstrations as successful and those perpetrating the violence as heroes and freedom fighters. Since then, President Mutharika has been condemning the violence and called upon the opposition leadership to show leadership, they ignored him. They kept quiet.
“Today, the violence they initiated and nurtured is turning full circle and they would like to blame the President for it? They are being hypocritical. They are not sincere.”
In separate interviews yesterday, commentators alleged that the President and his party alongside its political bedfellow United Democratic Front (UDF) were igniting the violence as a strategy to see the country erupt into anarchy that would lead to the postponement of the fresh presidential election.
Master Dicks Mfune, a peace, security and conflict resolution expert at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said in an interview that indications point towards the DPP-UDF Alliance as the architect of the violence.
He said: “They are creating anarchy so that the country becomes insecure and a State of Emergency is declared.
“Similarly is the way we are handling the Covid 19. Deliberately, the numbers will be rising yet we don’t see the evidence of [infected] people. The idea is to stop campaign meetings because numbers are rising.
“If you listened to the preamble of the State of the Nation Address by President Peter Mutharika, it literally shows that he doesn’t anarchy and if people ask why we don’t have elections, they we should say they are committing treason. All these are strategies to create a situation where you say the country is ungovernable.”
Mfune alleged that the Executive is failing to clamp down on the violence because the governing party “sends them”.
On his part, Political Science Association (PCA) secretary general Ernest Thindwa said the continued violence is a result of high poverty levels among youths who fall vulnerable to political leaders seeking to maximise their political capital.
He said: “This continued violence is also a reflection of the quality of the political class, most of them are not there to serve and they look at politics as an industry and look at competition as a threat, only to be dealt by violence. To achieve their goals, they hire youths who are suffering from poverty to cause havoc.”
In a statement yesterday, Youth-Decide Campaign team leader Charles Kajoloweka said as the country counts down to the fresh presidential election, political intolerance and thuggery pose a worrying threat to a peaceful and credible election.
Reads the statement he signed: “Most disturbingly, authorities, including President Peter Mutharika, Minister of Homeland Security and the police, paradoxically remain unresponsive, unmoved, elusive and absent despite rising calls for law and order.
“The absence of decisive leadership to clamp down on the horrifying wave of criminal terror causes deadening concern and only nourishes public fears that the perpetrators could be agents of the ruling elite.”
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Maurice Munthali shared the view that the current violence points to failure in leadership.
He said the problem is worsened by the President’s denial to accept the court’s decision on elections and the forthcoming fresh poll.
But Thindwa maintained that the President holds the key to ending these atrocities by issuing a directive to police so that all perpetrator are arrested and justice takes given.
South Africa is not subjecting Malawians and other nationals to coronavirus tests upon repatriation, leaving the tests to authorities in their respective countries.
In a written response yesterday, South Africa Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said they are ensuring that those awaiting repatriation are subjected to all Covid-19 measures.
She said: “Everyone is subjected to the coronavirus management protocols. They are screened when they arrive [in camps] and regularly during their stay.
“Those who present with symptoms [of Covid-19] are taken for tests. They are housed in facilities which facilitate social distancing and they receive masks and sanitisers.”
In a separate telephone interview yesterday, Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus co-chairperson Dr. John Phuka said they are putting in place several measures to ensure that the Specifically reacting to claims by Dausi and Kalilani that the opposition is reaping what it sowed, Mustafa Hussein—a political and administrative lecturer at Chancellor College—described their line of thought as “superficial” and not expected from those who are supposed to govern.
He said: “This is a culture that has mushroomed since multiparty [democracy] because those in power don’t want opposition. We had the young democrats during the UDF [United Democrati Front] regime or have we forgotten the panga-wielding youths under the Bingu was Mutharika government?
“The violence we are talking about today started even before the 2019 polls. Today, they are doing the same because they fear the opposition is gaining ground. No leader must condone violence.”
Last week, National Police Headquarters spokesperson James Kadadzera said police are moving in to curb the acts.
He said: “I may not yet be able to comment about today’s [Friday] incident as I am yet to get an official report but we are condemning it in the strongest terms.”
During Tonse Alliance rallies last week and at the weekend, there was heavy presence of armed police, an arrangement that earned police praise.
In recent weeks, political violence has claimed three lives in Lilongwe after unidentified assailants petrol-bombed a UTM Party office in Area 24, affecting a family that was residing in the backroom.
During the court-disbanded voter registration exercise, the National Registration Bureau (NRB) and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) suffered similar violent attacks in Blantyre and Mulanje where equipment got vandalised.
On May 29, Tonse Alliance members were pelted with stones by alleged DPP cadets in Phalombe and Liwonde in Machinga where they were holding whistle-stop tours ahead of the fresh presidential election.
In the Phalombe incident, a vehicle carrying journalists was smashed and some journalists sustained injuries in the process.
On May 30, people believed to be Tonse Alliance supporters barricaded the M1 at Mponela in Dowa to block the motorcade of DPP-UDF Alliance running mate Atupele Muluzi from holding a whistle-stop rally on his way to the Northern Region.