DPP planned Thyolo violence: JB blames Mutharika

There are emerging revelations supporting allegations that political violence at Goliati in Thyolo, which resulted in the deaths of a police officer and a civilian on Sunday was at the instigation of and carefully planned by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) top leadership.

The violence erupted during a development rally addressed by President Joyce Banda at Goliati Primary School in Chief Chimaliro’s area in the district.

Some people blamed Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara for inciting the violence in her speech when she said the fact that one was a good medical doctor does not make their sibling a medical doctor as well.

Banda (L) and Mutharika

Banda (L) and Mutharika

This was interpreted as a subtle reference to Mutharika whose brother, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, was president.

But according to highly-placed DPP sources, senior party leaders  met at the Nyambadwe residence of DPP President Peter Mutharika in Blantyre on Friday to discuss President Banda’s visit at Goliati the following Sunday.

Some of the notable members who attended the meeting were Mutharika, his Personal Assistant and newly-appointed DPP’s National Director of Operations and Fieldwork, Ben Phiri, DPP National Organizing Secretary, Chimwemwe Chipungu, DPP executive members Bright Malopa, former diplomat Brian Bowler and Francis Mphepo.

“The discussion was about the political threat that the visit by the Head of State would pose to the DPP and its leadership because they consider that area a ‘no-go-area’ for other political parties.

“The members’ view was that Goliati is one of the DPP’s major strongholds and it would be a ‘political embarrassment’ should President Banda, who is also leader of the governing People’s Party (PP), attract large crowds there.

“It is because of the foregoing that an idea was hatched to create tension with a view to disturbing the scheduled meeting. They agreed that violence will not only be justified for the DPP but also necessary in order to achieve their political objectives ahead of and during the polls,” Nyasa Times sources in the DPP rank and file said.

Revelations indicate that following the meeting, two members drove to Goliati and mobilized about ‘50 DPP Cadets’ to carry out the ‘operation’ the following Sunday. K2, 000 for each Cadet was the ‘motivation’.

The people who were commandeering the plan were DPP Thyolo East governor a Mr Mahikiri, a Cadet Mr Maseya and Anord Sawerengera who died during the combat.

Maseya is the same DPP official who attacked former president Bakili Muluzi at Goliati in 2009 elections smashing his car’s windscreen and also commandeered that attack of UDF leader Atupele Muluzi at Bvumbwe.

Others in the plot included former legislature Charles Mchacha.

“On Sunday morning, the DPP ferried in trucks more people from Mulanje and other parts of Thyolo into Goliati to beef up the ‘local’ team. On the same Sunday, the DPP organized ‘football bonanzas’ in several places close to the venue of President Banda’s rally, which was clearly an act of provocation,” narrated one of the sources.

Meanwhile, President Banda has blamed Mutharika for the violence.

Speaking at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on Wednesday after meeting 35 traditional leaders from Thyolo who expressed their disappointment with the violence, Banda said DPP caused the violence.

Said Banda: “On Friday last week, Mutharika insisted that he should attend a mass at a church near the venue where we were to conduct our rally and where the fracas took place. I was also surprised that during our rally there were some people that were standing on the outskirts holding DPP [miniature] flags.”

The President said the violent acts at Goliati Trading Centre in Thyolo East Constituency, home to Mutharika, has tainted DPP’s image because last Sunday’s incident was the third political fracas in the area against political parties other than DPP.

Banda said a few months ago her People’s Party (PP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) supporters were also assaulted in the same area.

But DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said police should investigate and bring those responsible to book.

Dausi said the President cannot assume the roles of the police, judges and prosecutors.

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