The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government will this weekend distribute free maize to the people of Phalombe and Chiradzulu in a move seen to thwart two political rallies organized by the United Transformation Movement (UTM) in the same districts.
UTM leader who is also State Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima is expected to hold two rallies, at Migowi Trading Centre in Phalombe on Saturday and at Ndata primary School ground in Chiradzulu on Sunday.
Insiders confided to Nyasa Times that DPPofficials have been sending messages to peoples in the two districts that they will distribute free maize to ‘avert the hunger situation in the country’ starting with the two districts this weekend.
But political analysts see this move as a desperate attempt by the ruling DPP to disturb UTM rallies after Chilima and his team successfully made some in-roads in what is perceived as DPP stronghold in Mulanje by holding a rally which attracted huge crowds at Namphungo School ground two weeks ago.
“The DPP knows that if Chilima and his team are going to attract huge crowds again in their strongholds of Phalombe and Chiradzulu, then their (DPP) status of being the powerful party in these districts will be lost and I am not surprised that they have arranged to distribute free maize only in these two districts as if these are the only districts where there is hunger,” said an observer who spoke to Nyasa Times.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha told a meeting with District Commissioners (DCs) and District Agriculture Development Officers (DADOs)that government will start implementing a relief food distribution exercise targeting 432,729 food insecure households in 26 districts across the country.
Mwanamvekha disclosed that the government, through the Department of Disaster and Management Affairs (DoDMA), has mobilized 21 636.5 tons of maize for the humanitarian response.
He said the distribution is once off, saying each beneficiary household is going to get a 50 kilogram bag of maize as preliminary relief before government rolls out Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) response from October to March, next year.
DPP has in the past, tried in vain to put counter events to UTM rallies. When UTM was being launched on July 21, 2018 at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe, DPP paid for free football matches in Lilongwe but UTM still managed to pull massive crowds.
It was the same the story in Blantyre on July 29, 2018 when UTM was being launched in the Southern Region at Njamba Freedom Park when the party sponsored a free music show and subsidized beer at a nearby upper Stadium but this too, failed. UTM pulled large crowds for the Njamba launch.
In Mzuzu, a plan to hold several rallies by DPP when the UTM organized its launch for the northern region on August 4, 2018 failed to materialize as the ruling party was forced to cancel its rallies to pave way for the UTM launch.
In Mangochi on August 19, 2018, the ruling DPP resorted to violence to intimidate UTM supporters and followers by torching two of its vehicles ahead of its eastern region launch which proved to be a success with a huge crowd attending the rally.