Estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima and Eastern Region Police Headquarters have disputed United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi’s claims that the Veep’s security shot unarmed protesters at Nselema in Machinga on Friday.
In separate interviews yesterday, both Eastern Region Police spokesperson Joseph Sauka and UTM Party director of publicity Joseph Chidanti-Malunga—speaking on behalf of Chilima who is also UTM Party president—said the Vice-President’s convoy did not even reach Nselema at the time of the incident.
Hooligans masquerading as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and UDF supporters on Friday blocked the Bakili Muluzi Highway at Nselema in an apparent bid to stop Chilima and his entourage from proceeding with scheduled whistle-stop campaign rallies.
The development, according to police, resulted in a fracas that prompted police at Nselema Trading Centre to fire use teargas to disperse the hooligans who were pelting stones at every passing vehicle.
While condemning the incident in two separate Facebook posts, Muluzi—who is running mate to President Peter Mutharika in the DPP-UDF Alliance—alleged that Chilima’s security detail shot a woman and a boy in the course of dispersing the hooligans.
He has also made the same claims on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
But reacting to the claims, Chidanti-Malunga yesterday described them as unfortunate, considering that no live ammunition was used and that the Vice—President’s motorcade or advance team did not reach the scene.
Speaking yesterday at a whistle-stop rally at Malembo in Mangochi, Chilima, who is running mate to Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus also disputed Muluzi’s claims, saying: “[Atupele] Muluzi is busy telling people that I ordered my security personnel to shoot at people at Nselema. But that is a total lie.Chakwera in the Tonse Alliance,
“We never reached Nselema and I never gave any orders to shoot. We turned back at Masuku.”
In a telephone interview, Sauka corroborated the versions of Chilima and Malunga, saying the Vice-President heeded police advice not to proceed to Nselema.
Sauka said a 17-year-old boy sustained injuries after an tear gas canister fell on his leg.
When contacted yesterday, Muluzi said he did not make unsubstantiated claims against Chilima, saying the immediate information he had indicated that there was use of live ammunition by the VP’s security detail.
A victim report from Machinga District Health Office (DHO) to Machinga district commissioner dated June 6 2020 shows that the three victims injured during the fracas were affected by tear gas and not gun shots.
The report also shows that no child was injured as the victims are Chifuniro Ajasi (17) from Umbwa Village, Lone Simoni (65) from Njete Village and Yusuf Jauma (29) from Umbwa Village all from Traditional Authority Chiwalo in Machinga.
Reads the report in part: “All the three patients had soft tissue injuries and are stable. In addition, they have all been managed as outpatients.”
Two weeks ago, Chilima’s motorcade was pelted with stones in Phalombe during whistle-stop tours he was conducting in the district and Mulanje, areas regarded as DPP strongholds.