Malawi Police in Ntchisi District on Tuesday detained a convoy of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) acting president Peter Mutharika barely days after government said only the President and the Vice-President are allowed to use motorcades.
Mutharika’s personal assistant Ben Phiri said in an interview police were not clear on what they wanted.
He said: “They [police] said they wanted a vehicle on the convoy which had loud speakers [public address system]. This is a vehicle which had red lighting on its top, but they could not explain why they wanted it. We asked them to give us a charge, but they failed to come up with any.
“We refused to leave the vehicle and told them they should simply tell us where to surrender it and the offence we committed. Our followers kept surging to the police station and as the situation was seemingly getting out of hand, they advised us to leave and we left with the vehicle.”
And DPP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi said the convoy was detained for about two hours after police impounded the party’s vehicle which was carrying the public address system Mutharika was using to address rallies on the tour.
“Police impounded the vehicle that carried the public address system, saying it was against some road traffic laws. We asked which specific laws had been breached but the police could not explain. They later said they had orders from above to impound the vehicle,” said Dausi.
Section 110 of the Road Traffic Act of 1997 prohibits use of “excessive noise” such as public address systems on vehicles moving on public roads.
Police on Monday stopped Mutharika from holding whistle-stop rallies from Lilongwe to Kasungu apparently because his programme collided with the arrival of President Joyce Banda from the United State of America through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe.
The order came two weeks after police blocked Mutharika from addressing his followers on his whistle-stop rallies from Lilongwe to Blantyre soon after he was granted bail in his treason case.
Malawi Information and Civic Education Minister Moses Kunkuyu is on record to have said the law only allows the President and their deputy to use convoys on both lanes of a road.
As we went to press, National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo asked to be called later because she did not have the information.