Government says it is pleased with the public admission by the leader of UTM Party, Vice-President Saulos Chilim that journalist George Banda was harmed on 6th February 2019 at COMESA International Conference Centre in Blantyre by UTM security personnel in a mistaken identity act.
Some UTM members assaulted a Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) stringer George Banda after they reportedly mistook him for a governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member when Chilima was presenting his nomination papers.
Chilima has since condemned the attack as regrettable and reiterating his party’s commitment to ensuring that journalists are operating freely.
“From findings of my aides, the incident emanated from a case of mistaken identity,” Chilima said in a statement delivered to media watchdog Misa Malawi.
However, in a statement made available to Nyasa Times, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Henry Mussa dismisses the apology and condemns the suggestion by Chilima that the violence against Banda is regrettable because he was not the target.
“This suggestion is worrying because it means that in the view of the UTM leader, violence against all their targets is fine and acceptable,” said Mussa, who is government spokesman.
“Government urges all peace-loving Malawians to roundly take exception to this kind of policy by UTM. It is a dangerous and evil policy. Violence, regardless of the target, is unacceptable,” reads the statement.
Government is asking Chilima to name the individual who was mistaken for Banda and provide the reasons why he or she deserved to be harmed.
“We hope the law enforcement agencies of the State will ensure that all those that are being targeted by the UTM are protected andthose that are plotting violence against them are investigated and brought to book.
“We believe Dr. Chilima has given these agencies a starting point,” Mussa said.
Meanwhile, Misa Malawi chairperson Teresa Ndanga welcomed Chilima’s apology.
“UTM president Saulos Klaus Chilima says he was shocked to learn of the incident at Comesa Hall on Wednesday during the presentation of his presidential nomination papers.
“Misa Malawi would like to express its gratitude for the remorse that the UTM president and his party have shown,” reads a statement signed by Ndanga.
She says Misa would be following up to ensure Banda is duly compensated for his losses.
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