The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), a governance and advocacy arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) , has condemned continued acts of violence among several political parties as the country approaches the 2019 Tripartite Elections, saying the country is sitting on a ticking time bomb.
The statement, signed by CCJP acting national coordinator Boniface Chibwana, condemned the violence that damaged two United Transformation Movement (UTM) vehicles on the eve of its Eastern Region launch in Mangochi last Sunday, describing the act as evil, criminal and a great concern to all peace-loving Malawians who subscribe to the spirit of unity, tolerance, co-existence and harmony in a democratic dispensation.
“We condemn these diabolical and criminal acts of political violence, and all similar evil acts, in the strongest terms possible irrespective of who sponsored and/or carried them out. When Malawians decided to embrace democracy by voting for multiparty system of Government in 1993, they decided to deal away with primitive politics characterized by political violence of every form,” said CCJP statement.
The condemnation followed events when two UTM vehicles— a Nissan Hardbody registration NS 7932 and a Toyota Hilux registration NA 4112—were smashed and set ablaze, respectively, while parked at two separate lodges around Mangochi Boma.
Mangochi Police Station spokesperson Rodrick Maida said police needed more time to investigate the matter.
CCJP said that they are deeply concerned that in spite of the large volume of documented evidence on political violence that started in the by-elections and spread to public events like parliamentary gatherings, the Malawi Police Service has lightly treated these incidents under the guise of “we are investigating the matter” without concluding such cases which are totally criminal.
“ As a result, impunity is now rife as political hooligans are not deterred,” said the Catholic commission.
CCJP pointed out that inflammatory messages from some politicians leave a lot to be desired.
“Castigation of political opponents has the potential to incite political violence. Elections management includes monitoring which goes beyond the actual polling day. As a nation, we need to collectively respond to this crisis through all the available avenues including legal means where possible,” the statement said.
CCJP has appealed to politicians to desist from delivering careless political messages that have the potential to incite violence among their followers.
It has also urged police to effectively investigate the cases of violence and bring perpetrators to book.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has also been asked to closely monitor unfolding acts of political violence as the country approach May 2019 and take necessary actions to ensure free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.
The CCJP extends its appeal to all Malawians, especially the youth, to desist from being used as instruments for unleashing political violence on fellow citizens whose only crime is supporting a political institution of their choice.
It said no individual political, traditional or religious leader or individual political party, ethnic group or religious grouping, has a right to claim any part of this country as belonging only to their preferred religious or political or tribal grouping.
“The whole Malawi belongs to all Malawians on equal terms,” reads the statement.
CCJP observed that “ Malawi is sitting on a ticking time bomb” if the current spate of political violence is not checked.
“Politics should not polarise the country when we have been known as a peace-loving society since our establishment as a state. It is time we realised that we are in a New Malawi where every person has fundamental liberties safeguarded by the Constitution of the Republic,” reads the statement.
Governance expert Makhumbo Munthali described the violence as retrogressive in the democratic era.
Munthali said the cause of thes political violence is multi-facet.
“On one hand there is the growing lack of political tolerance within and across political parties. On the other hand is the continued failure of our Police Service to come to the bottom of the several previous incidences of violence especially those implicating supporters of the ruling party of the day,” said Munthali.
“ Consequently, this has given licence to perpetrators of such violence to continue doing so knowing very well that Police will not act on them. By failing to come to institute investigations into these violent incidences or in some cases failing to conclude investigations, the Police has often been accused by the public of being an accomplice in these incidences. However, this should not be the case. Its high time our Police started acting professionally –not as a political wing of the rulling party of the day,” he added.
CCJP and Munthali called on the Malawi Police Service to discharge its constitutional and statutory mandate in protecting rights of all political players without fear or favour.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :