There was tension in the old capital, Zomba, on Sunday as supporters of the ruling People’s Party (PP) and opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) clashed and uprooted each other’s flags.
The clashes came ahead of a planned whistle-stop tour by Atupele Muluzi, UDF’s presidential candidate, in the Eastern Region.
UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said PP supporters in Zomba uprooted UDF flags. He said the development angered UDF supporters who protested.
He said the party, however, managed to proceed with its scheduled rallies despite the alleged provocation.
But PP publicity secretary Hophmally Makande, in an interview last evening, dismissed the reports, saying he was personally in Zomba and no such a thing took place.
Said Makande: “I personally spoke to members of both parties, UDF and PP, it never happened.”
But other UDF sources said there were running battles after their flags were uprooted. They said the situation calmed down later.
Zomba Police public relations officer Thomeck Nyaude said in an interview UDF requested to have a rally at Mponda Primary School ground and they were allowed.
He said later, some people in orange colours were seen travelling around in a pickup and UDF members suspected they were up to something evil and they reported them to police.
Said Nyaude: “We went there to control the situation and nothing happened.”
He said the reports that UDF or PP flags were uprooted were “just rumours” because no one filed a complaint with police.
This is early political violence as the nation is gearing up to the 2014 tripartite elections.
The Eastern Region, the home of President Joyce Banda as well as Atupele, has recently recorded a number of political violence cases involving PP and other parties, notably UDF and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In January this year, PP and UDF supporters also clashed in Balaka, leaving some people injured. PP supporters were accused of removing UDF supporters.
And in March, police in Zomba fired tear gas at DPP supporters at Songani Trading Centre who had gathered to welcome their leader, Peter Mutharika, who was on a whistle-stop tour of the region.