Matabwa Market vendors in Mzuzu have banned flying of political party flags and other campaign materials in the market to ease tension between supporters of governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and UTM Party.
Matabwa Market chairperson Gerald Maulana confirmed the development, saying they want to to avoid fights.
“Supporters of the two parties have been removing each other’s flags and tension has been rising between them. In the end, it is our businesses that will suffer,” he said.
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, DPP regional governor (North) Kenneth Sanga accused UTM Party of removing his party’s flags to incite violence.
“They want us to retaliate so people can turn against us. But we will not be forced into such cheap tactics,” he said.
Reacting to Sanga’s claims, UTM regional governor (North) Leonard Njikho said it was DPP which is behind perpetrating the bad practice.
He claimed that DPP flags were removed by vendors purportedly fed up with the party’s alleged habit of removing UTM flags and intimidating its members.
“UTM is a disciplined party. DPP wants to test our reaction, but we will not fall into their trap,” said Njikho.
Billboards bearing President Peter Mutharika’s portrait and election messages have also been vandalised.
Meanwhwile, international elections observer Moses Mkandawire has condemned the practice, saying such tendencies have sparked violence in some countries.