The awaited inauguration ceremony for the so called United States of Mulanje and Thyolo (Must) failed to take place on Thursday due to what some of its members called intimidation from the Malawi Government.
The ceremony scheduled to take place at People’s Land Organization (PLO) headquarters at Khonjeni Turn-off in Thyolo was expected to be the beginning of a ‘government’ led by people fighting for land rights in the two districts.
PLO supreme leader Vincent Wandale was to be sworn in as president and he was also expected to preside over the swearing in ceremony of his deputy and cabinet ministers.
In a telephone interview, Wandale said they were surprised with heavy police presence around the area and after consultation they agreed to postpone the meeting observing that the condition was not conducive.
“Since yesterday the Malawi Police have been all over the place asking our members different questions. After agreeing that the condition was not conducive we decided to stay back and watch what they intended to do. We expected that if they had any objection to our plans they would bring it forward to us, but as of now we haven’t received any,” he said.
However, Wandale who was in Blantyre at the time of the interview sounded positive that their plan would still go on and that they plan to meet to agree on another date.
While Nation Online crew was still at the scheduled venue for the function, some members who came to witness the ceremony were being sent back by few executive members of PLO staying close to the venue.
One of the executive members, governor-elect Fadson Mleme, told Nation Online, police both in uniform and civilian clothes have been visiting the place questioning them about the function.
“Different police vehicles have been going around the area, and in some cases Trucks by the Malawi Defence Force (MDF). Police officers have been questioning us about the ceremony and we alerted our leaders.
We feel intimidated and we do not understand why they are doing this because we are peace loving people, why must they force us to belong to their side,” said Mleme.
Another member Robert Kambame, wondered why the court decided to resume their case after a long period of silence.
“We know we are being followed [up] and the resumption of our court case is just witch hunting,” he said.
Wandale and four other members of his organisation are currently answering charges of obtaining money by false pretence.
They were arrested after about 54 villagers from Thyolo complained to authorities that the four had collected money amounting to K3.1 million from them promising to give them land in return.
The four pleaded not guilty to the charge arguing the villagers had paid the money to them as membership fee. They were released on bail in May this year.