Leaders of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Malawi have condemned the violence that damaged two United Transformation Movement (UTM) vehicles in Mangochi, urging the police to thoroughly investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of what the CSOs describe as an act of cowardice.
The CSO leaders Robert Mkwezalamba (Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee), Fryson Chodzi (Forum for National Development), Luther Mambala (Malawi Congress of Trade Unions), Lucky Crown Mbewe (Youth Empowerment and Civic Education), Carol Mvalo (Centre for Conflict Management and Women Development Affairs), Peter Mumba (Youth Applause) and Michael Kalima (Counselling of the Adolescent and Youth Organization) condemned political violence in a democracy.
The two vehicles were petrol bombed on Saturday night and Sunday morning respectively ahead of a mass rally Malawi’s Vice President and UTM leader Saulos Chilima held in the lakeshore district.
UTM spokesman Joseph Chidangti Mlaunga accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of having a hand in the violence in their desperate bid to weaken the movement.
Malunga said the torching of the vehicles has fired up the movement to bring about change in the country.
But DPP spokesman Nicholous Dausi denied the party’s involvement,saying: “ No we are not involved. It is not us.”
In their statement dated titled a “Call to End Political Violence and Bring Perpetrators to Justice”, the CSO leaders say they are greatly shocked with the events that have taken place in Mangochi.
“We categorically condemn in strongest terms the use of violence by any political grouping or people as we head towards the 2019 elections. This is archaic politics and must not be condoned,” reads part of the statement.
This comes high on the heels of reports that have been making rounds throughout the whole week that UTM has been facing resistance from suspected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) hired goons to hold its Eastern Region launch in Mangochi.
“We do not want to delve much into the speculation as to who is behind this barbaric act but rather request all the political players to act with restraint when it comes to political violence. Both the UDF and DPP must exonerate themselves from these acts and come out strongly to condemn the violence,” continues the statement.
It further retaliates that all political players should focus on and maintain an issue based campaign and desist from using hate speech and derogatory remarks as they have the potential to cause strife which leads to violence.
“Any political utterances that point to violence by our leaders is regrettable as it might not be understood by their suporters”.
Adds the statement, “before all these political parties and politicians we support, we are first Malawians and human beings created in the image of the creator. Therefore, different political ideologies must not make us enemies of each other but rather strengthen us as a country”.
The CSOs have also taken a swipe at the media, saying it is not helping much in addressing the issue of violence as they seem to douse more fire on the matter.
“The mere speculation and insinuations of violence can instigate others to act in a way to either implicate or tarnish others. The media have to exercise caution when covering issues related to political violence”.
The statement calls upon the youths and zealous party supporters not to be abused and used by their masters as instruments of violence.
“Politicians come and go, yet Malawi will remain the same. It is about how we want to live in our country that matters. We urge the youths to demand that authorities build their capacity towards attaining self growth and economic independence,” says the statement.
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