Police yesterday picked up for questioning a Malawi Congress Party (MCP) official, Ulemu Msungama, in connection with some WhatsApp discussions purportedly talking about how President Peter Mutharika could be forced out of office.
But Msungama—who was being held at Kanengo Police Station in Lilongwe—was not formally charged with any crime, according to party vice president Richard Msowoya.
Police yesterday denied detaining Msungama.
Msowoya, together with MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, camped at the police station for hours to see their member and understand what the problem was.
But, said Msowoya in an interview last evening, police did not allow the two MCP leaders to see their official, who stood on the party’s ticket for the Lilongwe City North East parliamentary election in the May 2014 polls.
He lost the election to Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Bentry Namasasu, but is challenging the results.
Msowoya, who is also Speaker of Parliament, said MCP had learnt that Msungama will today be taken to police headquarters at Area 30 in the capital city for further questioning.
He said MCP is assembling a legal team to defend Msungama against any crime police related to the issue.
There was also mystery surrounding the whereabouts of MCP publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila and the party’s head of the youth committee Peter Chakwantha, who were alleged to have also been party to the purported Mutharika ouster discussions.
Kabwila and Chakwantha are also members of Parliament (MPs), with the former representing Salima North West while the latter is legislator for Lilongwe Rural South West.
Asked if MCP knew where Kabwila and Chakwantha were, Msowoya said they had no idea where the duo was, but hoped and prayed that they were safe.
In an interview around 4pm yesterday, Msungama confirmed that he was being questioned over remarks he allegedly made on a WhatsApp group in January this year.
“I am at Area 30 headquarters. They called me over some WhatsApp messages, but I have told them it is doctored, I never said that. They are keeping me here, some CID [Criminal Investigation Division] officers have interviewed me, but they are not letting me go.”
Msungama said upon being shown the messages, he made an observation to the CID officers that the messages were doctored because the sequence of the dates on which the conversation allegedly took place was disjointed.
“There is no way a conversation could skip from 27 January to 29 January then to 28 January. In any case, if I were talking to fellow MCP members, I wouldn’t wait two or three days before responding to a message,” Msungama said.
Msungama allegedly made the following remarks in what is being claimed as a leaked WhatsApp group chat: “As MCP, we are supposed to take advantage of all this mess and play it from the background.”
However, police yesterday denied reports that Msungama was in their custody.
National Police deputy spokesperson ThomeckNyaude said CID officers have not updated him of any such arrest.
“Area 30 is empty, there are no people in the corridors except those at the switchboard,” he said.
However, MCP public relations officer Alekeni Menyani also confirmed that Msungama went to Area 30 around 12pm, but police have not allowed the party to access their member.
Menyani said MCP does not know where Kabwila and Chakwantha are.
“We have not seen her [Kabwila] since the PAC conference, so we believe she is in hiding, but we are trying to get to the bottom of it,” he said.
Chakwantha, on the other hand, posted a status on his Facebook page claiming that the WhatsApp messages were doctored, but after a short while the status was deleted.