The past weeks have been quite intense on the political scene. There have been suspicious arrests and suspicious charges—no pun intended.
A few days ago, one politician, Bon Kalindo, UTM director of youth was allegedly assaulted by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters. Kalindo managed to document the assault by sharing several pictures on social media of him with blood splattered all over his white vest and some pictures while he was on a hospital bed. Forget about Kalindo’s theatrics, the fact remains that he was assaulted.
It is quite clear that with a few months to the elections in May, the political atmosphere is tense as each political party tries hard to upstage their rivals. There is nothing wrong with political competition, actually, competition between political parties is an essential component of a democracy that is responsive to its citizens and thus able to address their concerns. What is clearly wrong and cannot be condoned is the use of violence to achieve political goals and to intimidate political opponents.
This is the time for all political parties to send a stern warning to their oftentimes, overzealous supporters to refrain from using violence to express themselves and to prove how much they love their party. Political parties need to be very clear on this and condemn violence regardless of who has done it. Parties cannot afford to send mixed signals on this issue. I, for one, expected the DPP to rise above party politics and condemn the assault of Kalindo, but it did not and may never do that.
My thought is that when a party is able to rise above petty party politics, it actually gains more traction and trust than when it keeps quiet when its members terrorise its political opponents.
The May elections are not a boxing match which will be won by one who managed to throw more blows at their opponent but, they are rather a battle of ideas. More especially, ideas on how and what political parties are going to do to transform Malawi from its current status. I have no issues if parties throw more punches discrediting the other party’s ideas—that is what Malawians want to hear in order for them to make an informed decision on who to vote for. But, no one is expecting parties to be throwing physical blows at each other. This can be avoided. The ball is in the political parties’ court. Political party leaders need to be firm in cautioning party supporters against the use of violence.
Violence has no place in a democracy and those that adopt violent means to express themselves cannot and should not be condoned in any manner whatsoever.