After being pleasantly surprised by how peacefully the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) conducted its first-ever national elections at its convention last week, it is such a massive anti-climax to hear of physical clashes between supporters of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and their opponents professing loyalty to the ruling People’s Party (PP).
The DPP convention, where many people predicted skirmishes because of the party’s track record, acted as a beacon of hope for civilised, mature and peaceful politics in the country where people of different political persuasions can express themselves while living side by side. In such a scenario, there is no need for any part of the country to be considered a no-go area for any political party.
As a party currently in government, PP needs to come out strongly and deal with the reported violence in Zomba. That cannot be achieved by simply disassociating itself from the perpetrators of the violence, but more so by using its proximity to the State machinery to get to the bottom of Sunday’s incident so that the culprits are properly identified and dealt with as provided by law.
With the tripartite elections only 13 months away, it is also important that a powerful message is sent out by the relevant law enforcing agents that violence will not be tolerated as the unofficial campaigns continue to gather momentum. The earlier this was decisively dealt with, the better; otherwise, any frustration emanating from failure to deal with the hooligans will lead to more tragic clashes.
Malawi is touted all over the world as a peaceful country and our democracy has been maturing steadily. It will be a huge dent on progress if hoodlums who cannot embrace this march into the future are allowed to derail the rest of the country.