Members of the Tonse Alliance were on Friday pelted with stones by alleged Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets in Mulanje and Liwonde where they were holding whistle-stop tours ahead of the fresh presidential election.
This comes a few weeks after political parties and the police on May 14 signed a peace pact against political violence ahead of the elections.
State Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is also running mate to Lazarus Chakwera in the nine-party alliance, was holding the whistle-stop tours in Mulanje and Phalombe districts where they were stoned by the alleged DPP cadets.
Spokesperson in the Office of the Vice-President Pilirani Phiri on Friday said the assailants sprung from shops and bushes they were hiding and started pelting stones, smashing some vehicles at Gawa.
Phiri, said following the incident, they discontinued the whistle-stop tours.
He said: “Indeed, some thugs smashed the vehicles along the way as the Vice-President was holding his tour. So for the safety of the Vice-President, we had to cut short the tour by suspending it.”
By then, Chilima, who fell out with the governing DPP in June 2018 and formed UTM Party, had made three stops out of five scheduled stops.
But Phiri said while Chilima was okay and had not sustained any injuries, part of the entourage, including journalists that had gone to cover the rallies were injured as a result from smashed glasses in cars that were ferrying them.
While Chilima was being attacked in Mulanje, which is in the Southern Region which is considered a stronghold for the governing DPP, other Tonse Alliance members led by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) IT specialist Daud Suleman, who were also holding whistle-stop tours in Liwonde had their share of violence.
There were no reported cases of people sustaining injuries.
In a telephone interview, Suleman said together with his colleagues, they were holding their peaceful whistle-stop tours when suddenly a man on a motorbike with a DPP flag came into the crowd.
“At this time we were at Petroda Filling Station [Liwonde] where we suddenly saw this guy on a motorbike. Just as he exited the place, stones rained on us from the very same side,” said Suleman, adding they cut short their tours.
But in a telephone interview, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, denied of the party’s involvement, saying they advocate for peace; hence, those who pelted Tonse Alliance members with stones are not from the ruling party.
Asked what is being done to address politically motivated violence, Malawi Police Service (MPS) national spokesperson James Kadadzera, said they are moving in to curb the acts.
Said Kadadzera: “Whosoever will be caught, the long arm, of the law will take its course. I may not yet be able to comment about today’s [Friday] incident as I am yet to get an official report but we are condemning it in the strongest terms.”
In an earlier interview with our sister paper The Nation, governance expert Rafiq Hajat, said the escalating cases of political violence pose a threat to the country’s democracy unless dealt with without fear or favour.
“Our democratic trajectory is rapidly descending into a wave of thuggery that will result in a tyranny of the majority unless the rule of law is restored without exception,” said Hajat.