As a way of controlling the gaffes at the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) the party ruffians on Sunday started confisticating phones of all those who are seen taking videos and demanding that they delete everything or have their phones smashed.
Several people took to Whatsapp groups to complain that DPP youth cadets aided by police forced them to delete their recordings after President Peter Mutharika campaign whistle stops at Kapiri in Mchinji while others had their phones smashed at Santhe in Kasungu for refusing to comply.
One person (name withheld) from Kapiri posted: “Zinali kuno kwathu Kukapiri ku Mchinji… kunabwera Peter (Mutharika) koma atifufutitsa zonse tinajambula pa stop tour yao.” (This is what happened, here, at Kapiri in Mchinji… Peter (Mutharika) was here but they forced us to delete whatever we recorded on our phones regarding his whistle stop visit).
From Mchinji Boma, another person (name withheld) said this on his Whatsapp group: “Kuno Ku mchinji amaletsa kujambula komanso munthu ali ndi phone amamutsitsa pomwe anakwela” (Here, at Mchinji Boma, they (DPP cadets and Police) they were stopping people from recording and whoever was perched on higher ground with a phone was pulled down).
Considering that no broadcasting house provides live coverage of whistlestop tours, the censorship is obviously aimed at ensuring that nothing that Mutharika, who is presidential candidate for the DPP in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, says on whistle stops reaches the general public through social media.
But it is not known if that the censorship drive will succeed considering that there are tens of people capturing proceedings during such events.
Mutharika public speeches have recently become popular for all the wrong reasons. Apart from having a speech that is barely incomprehensible, he has the uncanny habit of saying wrong things including getting names of people and places mixed up.
While it is clear that the DPP is scared of what their candidate will say each time he opens his mouth, they have no choice but to let him speak to the public if he is to stand a chance to retain the presidency, come May 21 this year.
The DPP dilemma is reminiscent of a 1994 event that drove many people to tears after the then ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) dragged an ailing President Kamuzu Banda out of State house on a wheelchair for a Lilongwe City whistle stop campaign tour just to prove to the people that he was well and alive.
The irony of the DPP censorship drive is that they want to limit public circulation of what their candidate says public.