Unidentified assailants torched a UTM Party branded vehicle assigned to the party’s Eastern Region director of women Shaheeda Hussein in the early hours of Sunday in Balaka District.
In a telephone interview yesterday, she said the incident happened soon after midnight when she heard strange noises on the roof of her house that prompted her to go out and check what was going on.
Hussein said: “When I went out, I saw the car burning and a few minutes later, another petrol bomb was also thrown just close to my bedroom. With the help of relatives, we started to shout and well-wishers came to help us put out the fire.”
However, she said the car was not extensively damaged as they put out the fire before it spread to all parts of the vehicle.
Hussein said she had spent the previous day at home and had not attended to any party meetings; hence, wondered why the unknown people targeted her.
She said the issue was reported to police who came to the scene. She said they are since waiting for a report from the law enforcers.
In a separate telephone interview, Eastern Region Police spokesperson Joseph Saukila said they are still investigating the matter and would let the public know the outcome at the right time after investigations are finished.
“We have our officers on the ground but for now we cannot say more since no one has been arrested yet. But, we can assure the public that the issue will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.
Recently, there have been reports of alleged politically motivated attacks in parts of Mulanje, Phalombe and Thyolo districts, where followers of opposition political parties have been the main targets.
Analysts have since feared that cases of politically motivated violence may escalate as the country draws closer to the fresh presidential election on July 2.
In an interview yesterday, governance commentator Rafiq Hajat said the escalating cases of political violence pose a threat to the country’s democracy unless they are dealt with without favour.
He said: “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.”
On Saturday, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said they have so far received reports of the alleged politically motivated incidences from Thawale in Mulanje only where UTM Party followers were assaulted.
In her speech during the launch of the official campaign period on Saturday, Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah cautioned political parties against using violence.
In March, governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) claimed that UTM Party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) were perpetrating terror on its supporters in the Central Region districts of Lilongwe and Dedza.
However, the HRDC, MCP and UTM Party described the allegations as mere propaganda which was trying to divert Malawians from real issues affecting them.