Opposition bedfellows UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP), together with Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), have hit back at governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) claim that the three are inciting terror in the country, describing the claim as cheap propaganda.
On Sunday, DPP secretary general Greselder Jeffrey issued a statement in which she accused the three entities of launching a new wave of terror by attacking their supporters in the Central Region districts of Lilongwe and Dedza.
She said: “These sad events, recent attacks and terror activities, are targeting our DPP governors and DPP leaders in various villages across Lilongwe and Dedza. We have received reports that DPP supporters are living in fear and some have fled their villages and are currently in hiding.”
Jeffrey said DPP has employed special measures, which she declined to reveal, to ensure safety of their supporters including linking up with law enforcement agencies to bring to book all perpetrators of the violence.
“We wish to repeat what we said a few weeks ago that we have recently observed the systematic collusion between UTM Party president Saulos Chilima and MCP who have hijacked the HRDC platform and have turned themselves into a three-some axis of evil. As DPP, we will not tire, we will not relent, we will not be cowed down, and we will not give an inch of space for this axis of evil to overthrow our constitutional democracy,” she added.
MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka has since described the remarks as nonsense and mere propaganda from the governing DPP.
In an interview yesterday, he claimed the opposition apprehended some people who confessed to have been sent by DPP to buy national identity cards (IDs) in the pretext that the holders will benefit from Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medf) loans. He said the conduct is suspicious as the country awaits the fresh presidential election on July 2 this year.
Said Mkaka: “This is sheer nonsense and useless propaganda. Citizens and our people have apprehended youths that are collecting national IDs from voters. Those apprehended have confessed to having been sent by DPP.
“Yet, here is a whole secretary general lying with a straight face that those going out are Medf officials when Medf has distanced itself from the practice. We just want to tell the DPP that we are vigilant and we will not allow them to play with the people’s right to choose a leader of their choice.”
On his part, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said the lawlessness that DPP is complaining about is of the governing party’s own making.
He said: “I am not surprised that it’s coming from a political party that does not respect the separation of powers in a government system. A party that thinks that Malawians are fools. Let them address real issues of thugs who are being sent to move around villages to rob poor Malawians of their national IDs while promising them Medf loans.”
Trapence further warned DPP against dragging HRDC into party politics, saying the coalition is a human rights body and a people’s movement.
“If DPP has concerns on violence, let them report to police,” he added.
On the other hand, UTM Party spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga urged DPP to slow down on careless utterances.
“These are DPP gimmicks, sending people to buy IDs in the name of loans. They should have known that this is a sensitive period, people will react to anything suspicious,” he said.
Meanwhile, National Registration Bureau spokesperson Norman Fulatira says keeping someone’s national ID is an offence, according to Section 15 (1) of the National Registration Act.
“Malawians should know that there is no proxy in national ID registration as well as collection. Every eligible Malawian citizen is supposed to register, collect and keep their own ID. No one is supposed to take and keep another person’s national ID. It is an offence,” he said.
Fulatira further said Section 42 of the same Act prescribes the offences and penalties of collecting other people’s national IDs for which, on conviction, a person shall be liable to a fine of K1 million and five years imprisonment.
Commenting on the prevailing claims, NRB said it is yet to verify them.
Said Fulatira: “However, NRB would like to assure Malawians that it is extremely difficult to delete an individual’s particulars in the system considering the system security that is in place. We have a very secure firewall which prevents intruders to penetrate the NRB network.
“Any attempt to tamper with the NRB database triggers an event which notifies our System Administrators of any change with respect to above. NRB database security log files do not show any attempt to breach the NRB security by way of delete or modify. Therefore, Malawian citizens should be assured that their national ID information is very safe.”
NRB has since urged the public to report to police or any nearest NRB office anyone found collecting people’s national IDs.
Efforts to speak to Medf chief executive officer Mervis Mangulenje proved futile as her phone went unanswered several times.
President Peter Mutharika on March 4 this year launched the K8 billion Medf loan fund targetting youth and women, which critics described as a ploy to woo women and youth votes in the forthcoming fresh presidential election.