Business came to a halt in Zomba City on Saturday afternoon when Malawi Police Mobile Service fired teargas to disperse opposition DPP supporters who were scheduled to hold a rally at Mponda Primary School ground.
People scampered to safety with some covering their mouths with face towels and handkerchiefs to keep out the teargas.
DPP Eastern Region vice president Yunus Mussa was expected to address the rally but was advised by the police officers to shift the venue to Gymkhana Club ground, a development that did not go down well with the supporters.
Eastern Region Police spokesperson Sub Inspector Thomeck Nyaude said they had to use reasonable force to disperse the gathering because People’s Party (PP) officials were holding a meeting at the same venue inside Mponda Teacher Development Centre (TDC) and feared there would be clashes thereafter.
“We definitely had to bring peace by using minimal force because the DPP followers were adamant to change the venue to Zomba Gymkhana Club ground. In matters like this, security is of utmost important. The DPP officials said they got consent from the Chief Executive of Zomba City to hold the rally at Mponda ground but due to the intensity of the situation we couldn’t allow that to happen,” said Nyaude.
Nyasa Times sources say PP officials were having their meeting at the same venue in preparation for the official elevation of Traditional Authority Mlumbe to Senior Chief by President Joyce Banda on Sunday.
However, some innocent people expressed discontent with the police action on the matter.
“This is ridiculous! How can they (the police) fire teargas anyhow like this? They should assess the situation before reaching this decision this is nonsensical of them,” said one businessman in the old capital city of Malawi.