Tonse Alliance leaders led by their torchbearer in the forthcoming fresh presidential election, Lazarus Chakwera, yesterday condemned political violence and appealed to their supporters to refrain from fighting back.
In his address at a rally at Mbwadzulu in Monkey Bay yesterday monitored on TTV, Chakwera, who is Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and has partnered UTM Party president Saulos Chilima as his running mate, said it is unfortunate that their political opponents were resorting to violence which he said is not ideal in a democratic society such as Malawi.
He said: “We want change, we want to bring peace. So, even if you are being provoked, do not fight back because as an alliance, we are not meant for violence. We are for peace.”
In his address, Chakwera—who quit the pulpit as head of Malawi Assemblies of God in 2013 to join frontline politics—said that while they are being attacked in different parts of the country, the perpetrators should know that they will be answerable one day.
He said truth and justice will prevail, citing the presidential election nullification petition as an example.
Chakwera said Tonse Alliance—which also comprises seven other parties apart from MCP and UTM Party—is for the people and has a blended manifesto to improve the livelihood of Malawians.
On his part, UTM Party vice-president Michael Usi shared Chakwera’s sentiments and urged their supporters to refrain from engaging in violence.
He said: “We want peace in the country and not the acts of politically-motivated violence that we are seeing. So, let us not revenge any acts of political violence.”
Taking his turn, MCP vice-president Mohammad Sidik Mia also stressed the same message.
However, in an interview on Friday, governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said the party is not in any way involved in political violence, saying those perpetrating it are not supporters of the party.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence, said if the violence will not stop, they will be left with no option but to report some high-profile individuals to the International Criminal Court (ICC) who are believed to be bankrolling violence in the country.
Political violence reared its ugly head on Friday when the motorcade of Chilima, who is also the country’s Vice-President, was stoned in Phalombe, injuring journalists who were covering his whistle-stop rallies. In Liwonde, Machinga the same day, MCP information technology (IT) specialist Daud Suleman and his Kokoliliko youth crew were pelted with stones by alleged DPP supporters.
On Saturday, people suspected to be Tonse Alliance sympathisers barricaded the M1 at Mponela in Dowa to block DPP-United Democratic Front (UDF) running mate Atupele Muluzi from passing enroute to Mzuzu.
In an earlier interview with The Nation, Euginio Njoloma, a lecturer in security studies at Mzuzu University, said such acts of political violence have a number of security implications.
“It can gravely compromise the legitimacy of the forthcoming election as many people may feel intimidated to even show up for voting. This is especially for those who feel to be targets of the violence,” he said.
Besides, Njoloma said there is also a possibility that political violence can saw seeds of endemic violence, thus people could cease to appreciate legitimate and non-violent mechanisms for conflict resolution by resorting to violence.
The political violence is rising despite political parties and the Malawi Police Service (MPS) on May 14 signing a peace pact against violence in the run-up to the fresh presidential election.