Bomb throwing violence linked to politics is escalating, with the latest petrol war victim being the headquarters of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Lilongwe.
While political players are engaged in blame games, the police appear helpless with no concrete leads on who is behind the bombings and their motives.
Yesterday’s petrol-bomb explosion, which did not claim a life but partly destroyed the building, is the second in one week and the fifth since Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announced controversial presidential election results on May 27 this year.
Unknown assailants last week petrol-bombed Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo’s house in Area 49 in Lilongwe, damaging his vehicle and part of the house.
These incidents also come after thugs in July petrol-bombed a UTM Party vehicle in Mangochi, a house belonging to Malawi Congress Party (MCP) director of Youth Richard Chimwendo Banda in Dowa, MCP offices at Chichiri in Blantyre, and MCP vice-president Sidik Mia’s offices in Blantyre.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said in an interview yesterday they are yet to arrest anyone although they continue investigating the cases.
He said: “We believe that these attacks are coordinated and that the communities know some people who are doing this. We ask for their help in dealing with the situation.
Kadadzera further bemoaned what he described as “traditional means of investigating matters” within the police, saying it affects the speed with which they can conclude their investigations.
“If we had things like CCTV, such technology could have helped us track down suspects. But for now, we depend on asking people for information and the community to offer us tip-offs so that we get to the bottom of issues,” he said.
However, the National Police spokesperson said the police are working hard to establish facts and bring culprits to book.
Meanwhile, security expert Euginio Njoloma, who lectures at Mzuzu University in the Department of Governance, Peace and Security, said the attacks are indicative of compromised security in the country.
He said: “The targeted attacks signal a compromised security. It also defies the concept of Rule of Law, which makes the country degenerate into a failed statehood category. All this is because government appears not interested to address such targeted attacks and chooses to leave the perpetrators scot-free.”
According to Njoloma, government must see to it that the rule of law is respected irrespective of one’s political affiliation, calling for speedy investigations and delivery of justice.
DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, who is also Minister for Homeland Security, while confirming an attack on the party’s offices, said in an interview the party is worried with the direction the country is going.
“As a country we can’t continue this way. We think that this is a result of careless statements made by HRDC leaders and UTM Party and MCP. We think a solution is contact and dialogue,” he said.
But MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali said the acts are politically motivated.
He said: “The biggest worry in this country is that the President Peter Mutharika regime has chosen to pull the Malawi Police Service into their political armpits, rendering the law enforcers toothless and substantially unprofessional in their service delivery.”
On his part, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said the current problems do not need dialogue, but for government to let the police work freely to protect the citizenry and their property.
Political analyst Ernest Thindwa has since warned that if the parties involved do not engage in dialogue, the country could easily slide into a large civil strife scare.
He has also called on police to speed up investigation on the matters.
Yesterday’s bombing of the DPP offices is suspected to have occurred around 2am, according to Central Region Police spokesperson Kingsley Dandaula who said the police were yet to assess the damage.
A visit to the place by The Nation showed that only the main door of the office and a window were tampered with as guards managed to extinguish the fire on time.
In August last year, a survey by our sister newspaper Weekend Nation based on serious violent cases published in Nation Publications Limited (NPL) titles—Weekend Nation, The Nation and Nation on Sunday—indicated that out of 15 incidents of violence that occurred between 2014 and 2018, police only acted swiftly on one incident.
According to the paper’s findings, the one case they acted on involved opposition parties, while those linked to supporters of the governing DPP were largely ignored.
Additional reporting by Enelless Nyale