Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has urged the party’s supporters to refrain from going to court once the trial for the presidential election case starts.
The MCP leader has since called on the supporters to follow the court proceedings from the party’s headquarters or regional offices.
Speaking during a press conference in Lilongwe on Monday, Chakwera said the supporters’ huge presence at the court may attract other people with ill intentions to cause unnecessary tension, thereby derailing justice.
“As you know, the trial will be broadcast live on Times and Zodiak radio stations. As such, on the day the trial starts, I am inviting all Malawians of goodwill to gather here at the MCP headquarters and at other MCP offices in the regions and districts of the country to listen to the broadcast of the trial together.
“These will be our gathering points to follow the trial so that we do not crowd around the premises of the court and interfere with the smooth progression of the case, for we do not want any conduct on our part to become a cause for delaying the case,” he said.
Commenting on the torching of their Southern Region office on Sunday night by unknown arsonists, Chakwera described the act as cowardice and a move aimed at provoking the party. He said MCP will not be shaken, but will keep on fighting until justice prevails.
He said: “This was clearly a cowardly act perpetrated by mercenaries who lack both the intelligence to reason and the integrity to face us. We have since reported the matter to the Malawi Police Service, even as our own investigation is in progress to identify both the perpetrators of this crime and the interests they serve.
“Malawians are sick and tired of the thieving Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] government which has robbed them of their birthright and has lost all legitimacy to govern, and if your hope in this attack is to dim the ray of hope that the people see in MCP for their deliverance, you have failed.”
When asked to name the suspects behind the burning of the offices, Chakwera said they will let investigations do that.
However, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka did not mince words, saying: “This is the hand of DPP, no one else, who else can do that?”
But DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi dismissed Mkaka, saying the matter is a criminal case. He urged MCP to report to police and let justice prevail instead of pointing fingers at DPP.
“Of late we have seen property of people who have been sympathisers of DPP being destroyed, did they say anything? Now that it is their office, why are they blaming DPP? This is a criminal case; let them report to police. As a party, we have no appetite for doing that, they themselves are masters of looting and burning properties. Let them report to police,” he said.
The MCP regional office was hit by a suspected petrol bomb on Sunday night, before police investigations into a similar attack three weeks ago are yet to conclude.
During the latest attack, about half of the office was burnt up to the roof with notable destruction to windowpanes, doors and furniture.
When The Nation visited the premises on Monday, scores of MCP officials, supporters and passers-by were seen assessing the damage allegedly caused by about 20 unidentified men who reportedly arrived at the premises around 10pm on two minibuses and a pick-up before forcing guards to flee for their lives.
MCP regional secretary (South) Peter Khofi said the impact of the attack would be felt through the unavailability of space to accommodate the party’s operations in the region.
He said: “As things are right at the moment, as a party we do not have a regional office. That means it will be difficult for us to operate because this was being used as a hub to coordinate our operations. Apart from that we have lost a great deal of property, including a computer, printer and some furniture through the fire and theft.”
When contacted for comment, Southern Region Police spokesperson Ramsey Mushani confirmed the incident in a telephone interview.
“We have registered a complaint from the MCP about the burnt offices at Chichiri. We sent an investigation team to the place and they have gathered information which they are currently analysing.
“As you know, the incident just happened Sunday night and it is too early for us to make any conclusions. As for the previous attack that you are talking about, I do not have any information as at now,” he said.
MCP and UTM Party led by former vice-president Saulos Chilima are challenging presidential election results of the May 21 tripartite polls.
A panel of five High Court judges sitting as a constitutional court is set to start hearing the substantive case on July 29.