Taxpayer-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked President Peter Mutharika to come out strongly and condemn incidents of politically-motivated violence and violence emanating from bloodsuckers’ myth.
In a statement The Nation has seen on recent violent acts in the country, MHRC reminds the President that “leadership does not lie in one’s designated position, but in his ability to take the first step and put forth solutions to the ills of the society”.
The statement, signed by MHRC chairperson Justin Dzonzi, follows recent violence cases in Rumphi and Nsanje where governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters clashed with followers of opposition political parties.
Reads in part the statement: “The commission calls upon the President of Malawi to come out strongly and condemn such incidents of politically motivated violence in Rumphi and Nsanje as well as the violence motivated by beliefs and myths in Mulanje and the surrounding districts.”
MHRC has also urged political parties to desist from resorting to acts of violence and intimidation in the face of stiff competition, but to inculcate in their supporters a culture of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and coexistence.
Besides calling the President to act, the commission has also taken a swipe at the Malawi Police Service (MPS), stressing that it is deeply disturbed by failure of law enforcers to deal with acts of violence with speed and without fear or favour.
Dzonzi said the pattern of inability of the law enforcers was more pronounced in cases of politically-motivated acts of violence as was the case in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency and Bolero in Rumphi.
He said: “The commission notes that this failure by police to act decisively may emanate from political interference in their operations by high ranking party officials and even Cabinet ministers…
“It is, therefore, disheartening to note that some of these incidents have taken place in the presence of law enforcement officers who stood idly by while the perpetrators unleashed the acts of violence without taking lawful steps to quell them down.”
MHRC has since called on the police to be professional, impartial and accountable to the people of Malawi by demonstrating the ability to discharge duties and functions without fear or favour.
On the blood sucking myth in Mulanje and surrounding districts, where collectively about 31 people have been arrested for allegedly taking the law into their hands, the MHRC has said it considers those killed and molested as innocent people and entitled to the full protection of the law.
While indicating that he was yet to see the MHRC statement, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said they could not rush to make arrests on the Gonapamuhanya fracas in Rumphi because there was chaos.
He said: “We could not have rushed to make arrests. We needed to investigate the issue and we are doing that. We have to follow the law at all times, and that is what we are doing.
“Our plea is for leaders of political parties to sober up and promote the spirit of co-existence. They must tell their youth to live peacefully together. We are all Malawians and we live in the same community. There is no need for violence.”
Meanwhile, the commission has said it will engage all stakeholders involved in these disputes to a dialogue so as to reach amicable solutions.
MHRC has further said it will continue monitoring the role of various stakeholders in all sectors and where necessary it will resort to naming and shaming those who indulge in practices that incite violence.
The call for Mutharika to act comes just days after chiefs and their subjects in the ‘bloodsuckers’ hotspot districts of Mulanje, Phalombe and Chiradzulu said they want Mutharika and senior government officials to address meetings to clear the mist. n