Malawi’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party’ (DPP) is facing widespread criticism that it has launched a new “terror” campaign as a tool aimed at instilling fear into the political competitors, critics and the population.
This was evident at Parliament on Friday when DPP youth cadets with high level impunity disturbed proceedings when President Peter Mutharika’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) at Parliament in Lilongwe.
Amatuer video clips on social-media capture DPP cadets harassing journalists and legislators deemed proponents of Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s presidential candidature for the party in 2019.
The commandeering cadets have been identified as Dyton Mussa – who even challenged police as he harassed legislators – and another Diagras Banda also flamboyantly showed he is above the law.
The two, who were being coordinated by DPP regional governor (south) Charles Mchacha , had earlier on blocked DPP MP Patricia Kaliati from entering parliament.
Kaliati had to be rescued by police and Parliamentary security as her own party’s terror machinery threatened to assault her for supporting Saulos Chilima candidacy.
The opposition political parties and human rights activists described the move as DPP’s desperate bid to cling onto power ahead of impending elections next year.
The harassment at Parliament was done as diplomats, heads of various government departments and captains of the industry attended the State of the Nation Address—one of the key policy speeches of the state calendar.
Opposition People’s Party (PP) leader in Parliament, Ralph Mhone, described the events as a “day of national shame”.
“We deplore the behavior displayed by the DPP cadets. It shows there is lack of discipline in the DPP that they can disrupt the president’s speech and in terms of Parliamentary procedures, the president’s speech is not supposed to be interrupted. We MPs, too, are supposed to listen to the speech so that we can respond to what he is saying,” said Mhone.
Human rights acticis have since branded DPP “a party of terror”.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) that organised last week’s demonstrations told DPP that Malawians are tired “with their politics of terror, propaganda and manipulation”.
A statement signed by leaders of the group, Gift Trapence of Centre for Development of People (Cedep), Timothy Mtambo who heads the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Charles Kajoloweka of the Youth and Society warned DPP that “ if they insist holding to their undemocratic and barbaric politics, change will change them because it is only change which is constant.”
Governance expert Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that “regrettably, this primitive politics has no place in our the current democratic dispensation and must be strongly condemned not only by the party but also the President in order to send a message that he is not party to such salvage politics.”
He said the President or party leadership failure to condemn the barbaric youths would mean they are part and parcel of the terror scheme.
“If Mutharika will be quiet of all these brutal happenings, then it means he is either an accomplice to this scheme or he is not in control vindicating the former first lady assertion that the beasts that have surrounded him are the ones making critical decisions both at government and party level
“Otherwise these developments may only be vindicating (former first lady) Calista Mutharika’s words. Mama Calista gave us a signal about how this government is run,” he said.
DPP cadets have a history of abductions and killings.
Elections are due in Malawi in May 2019 and Mutharika has declared that he will seek a second term, despite recent criticism of his age. He will be 79 next year.
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