President Joyce Banda yesterday maintained that opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) followers started the violence that claimed lives of a civilian and a police officer at Goliati Trading Centre in Thyolo.
Speaking at a rally she addressed at Domasi in her Zomba Malosa Constituency, the President urged the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to investigate what sparked the violence and bring to book the perpetrators regardless of their political affiliation.
Said Banda: “Police should investigate the issue and those who were involved should be brought to book, whether they are members of the Democratic Progressive Party or PP [People’s Party].”
The President claimed that a truckload of DPP supporters arrived at the venue where she addressed a rally in the constituency with the members allegedly carrying DPP miniature flags, stones and pangas.
Banda’s remarks, one week after the violence, came barely days after DPP presidential candidate Peter Mutharika asked her to withdraw her accusation that Mutharika attended a Catholic mass at a church near the venue where she addressed the rally in Thyolo East Constituency.
During her meeting with traditional leaders from Thyolo at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on Wednesday, the President blamed Mutharika for being behind the Goliati violence.
The President said Mutharika, who comes from the area, insisted that he should attend the mass at a church near the venue.
But, addressing a news conference at his Nyambadwe residence in Blantyre on Thursday evening, Mutharika said he was not a member of the Catholic Church; hence, could not attend a mass.
Mutharika said that much as his party does not condone what happened in Goliati, it was PP that provoked the situation by firstly removing his party’s flags.
During the briefing, DPP secretary general Jean Kalilani read a statement condemning the violence but at the same time accusing the PP of provoking the situation.
Asked why it took him so long to condemn the violence, Mutharika said his personal assistant, Ben Phiri, was typing the statement when he was attacked by suspected PP followers at a hotel in Blantyre on Tuesday. Phiri has since been discharged from Blantyre Adventist Hospital where he was admitted.