Activist condemns ‘criminal elements’ in Malawi demos: Time for deep soul-searching

A governance  expert and  commentators have called for deep soul-searching to bring back sanity in the country as some criminal elements are taking advantage of the  demonstrations in the aftermath of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections to loot shops,  offices and torching government premises and property.

A protester carries a banner calling for the ousting of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah.-Photo by Amos Gumulira, AFP
The ugly side of the violent anti-Jane Ansah protests
First Capital Bank damaged by protestors
Munthali:  Organisers of demonstrations  shouldn’t be seen to be seen to be shielding perpetrators of violence
The ugly side of the violent anti-Jane Ansah protests
Former Vice President and UTM leader, Saulos Chilima joined the march in Blantyre. 

At the centre of the protests being organised by civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is the demand for resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson, Jane Ansah, for presiding over a flawed electoral process.

In the demonstrations on Tuesday, while the protests in Blantyre and Mzuzu were generally peaceful, the Lilongwe event was marred by violence, including the burning of a police armoured vehicle, looting of shops and ransacking of First Capital Bank.

The unrest began after police had fired teargas to try to disperse the crowd, and people retaliated by setting fire to the police vehicle.

In an interview with Nyasa Times, social and governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said there is no justification of any kind on the looting and criminal activities that marred the demonstrations.

“These must be condemned in strongest terms, and the law enforcers must rise up to affect arrests on perpetrators,” said Munthali.

“It’s unfortunate to note that instead of establishing good collaboration with organisers of demonstrations in order to ensure peaceful demonstration, the Police and government  have often been in force front blocking protesters from exercising their right.

“This has often led to anger by some demonstrators leading to destruction of property,” he said.

On the part of organisers of demonstrations, Munthali observed that they have not had adequate marshals to complement the Police in ensuring order during demonstrations.

“The absence of adequate marshals and the failure of Police to act due to loss of protesters trust have meant that the crowd has been left without control. At the end of the day, the Army who have been drawn in to support the Police have also been limited to provide the required security mindful of the fact that this is not their primary duty,” he said.

The governance commentator suggested that organisers, City Councils CEOs, Police and the Army should come to a round table on how they can make the next demos peaceful.

“On the part of the President, MEC chairperson and government it would be important that they deeply reflect on the concerns being raised by demonstrators. There is need for them to change the focus from stopping or blocking demonstrations to strengthening their responsiveness to the issues being raised by the people.

“In other words, instead of embarking on tactics and propaganda to block the demos they need to devote their energies in finding lasting solutions to the issues being raised by demonstrators,” he said.

Munthali said organisers of demonstrations should go beyond the rhetoric of simple appealing for peaceful demonstration and condemning violence acts to begin collaborating with law enforcers in sharing relevant information where available that can lead to arrest those perpetrators.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) earlier asked Ansah and HRDC to reflect on their respective positions. Ansah has been asked to deeply reflect if she felt her position was still tenable in the wake of growing demands for her resignation.

Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, is on record as having said she can only step aside if the nullification petition in the Constitutional Court will find her commission not to have ably discharged its duties.

To HRDC, the Law Society quizzed the grouping on whether it believed continuing to hold a series of demonstrations after previously presenting petitions was in order.

The leading Malawi daily newspaper, The Nation, in an editorial comment on Wednesday, stated that the points raised by MLS “made sense.”

Reads the comment: “How does Ansah, personally, feel when she sees the extent of the continued damage to business, infrastructure and the economy at large in the name of demands for her head?”

The paper appealed to the organisers of the demonstrations, Ansah and other stakeholders to “deeply reflect” and that there is need for honest and deep soul searching to bring back sanity.

Catholic University-based political scientist Nandin Patel has asked for electoral stakeholders to first wait for court ruling on the election case results before condemning Ansah.

But Patel said it remains a moral responsibility and personal decision for one to resign.

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John katapa
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John katapa

Its high time this hidden thief need to teach the lesson, so many shops has been looted, and vandalized , its people hars earn money, the business is suffering, also its damaging countries image, we hop this come to an end soon

Kuwonga Nadi
Guest

If these demonstrators knew how hard our life was when we were young, they could not dare doing what they are doing now. I for one was brought up by a single mother who was widowed when I was just 3 years old. My mum used to do piece work from other peoples garden and with the little resources she was getting, she was supporting her 3 children. By then primary schools were not free. We were paying fees. I remember there was a time she used to take us her 3 children to do piece work in other peoples… Read more »

Kaitano
Guest
Kaitano

With this history of yours, what I can advise you is just to take care of your mother, she did her best, she was not doing it for Malawians but for you.

Achiswe'.'
Guest

The people are angry; they have had enough of misrule, corruption, theft, nepotism, and being down – trodden. Their peaceful nature has been taken for granted for far too long. It is now the time of reckoning. The actions of the police have antagonised the demonstrators and now we can see the consequences. In the end the people will win and the sooner the better.

Joloza
Guest

Abusa Dr. Jane Ansah musapange resign. Ngati nyau zikufuna kusalaza dziko zisalaze. Siinu olakwa pokhapokha akhoti atakupezani olakwa.

Kholowa
Guest
Kholowa

What do you expect with 90% un employed youth with no choice in life? Go to school they sit on bricks when the politicians sons are studying in comfort rooms with nice chairs in uk? A nation that can afford to charter a plain for a president when he is ill but cannot afford to buy tablets for its poor citizens. A nation that can afford to employ one tribe living other youths wondering what their future will be like.so mr peter do you think you will survive this as we can see that you are clueless all you are… Read more »

Chi
Guest
Chi

Mfiti yaikazi sikhululika. Jane Ansah mau ine ndilibe

TOSH
Guest

zinthu zafika ponunkha is ANSAH having the human heart with the way things are moving right now along side pitala plizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz mr president remove ANSAH yu want malawi now to be aruin

Sophistica
Guest
Sophistica

Then ask this to Mtambo and Co… Is there rational justification to deprive the country of it’s peace and harmony on alleged matters. If Jane Ansah is not wrong, will they reverse these unfortunate lootings and damages. In a democratic society everyone deserves a fair trial, let Asha get a fair trial.

Alegria
Guest
Alegria

So Ntambo, Chilima and Chakwera have no human heart eti? now you are talking Tosh. These demonstrators have no humn heart.

Tippex is king
Guest

Life is exciting today. No deaths yet!

TAD
Guest
TAD

IT IS THE PEOPLE OF MALAWI WHO ARE ANGRY.
BUT THE DPP THUGS HAVE INFILTRATED TO STEAL AND ROOT.
NO WONDER THE POLICE CARDETS CANNOT ARREST THEM EVEN WHEN CAUGHT RED HANDED.

Swanzeka
Guest
Swanzeka

Stupid Munthali always talks trash as a headless chicken! Demos should be partonised by registered members of HRDC, MCP, UTM, Nkhoma and Livingstonia synods. None members should not be allowed to demonstrate

watoto
Guest
watoto

Stupid, every Malawian is registered…the CSOs just represent them. Where in the world do they register
demonstrations. As long as you are a citizen and concerned.

Tippexed Judges
Guest
Tippexed Judges

VALID POINT SWANZEKA!!!

GANGWAYI
Guest
GANGWAYI

IWE WAYAMBA ZACHAMBA TIYE KUNSEU TIKAKUONESE