UDF accused of fomenting violence in Mangochi

Reports of political violence allegedly perpetrated by members of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) continue to cause fear among members of other parties in the Eastern Region, especially in Mangochi.

A member of the civil society in Mangochi told Nyasa Times in an interview on Sunday that militant UDF supporters stormed ESCOM offices recently and caused havoc, accusing the electricity utility company of sabotaging the party’s presidential candidate, Atupele Muluzi’s campaign rally.

“What had happened was that while Atupele was in Mangochi for a campaign rally, electricity went out and that affected the Public Address System as they did not have back-up generators. Hell broke loose as young UDF cadres ran amok, manhandling a few ESCOM employees they found at the ESCOM premises.

“The matter was reported to police but surprisingly no arrests have been made so far,” said the human rights activist, who suspects that the police in Mangochi are all too afraid to handle UDF violence cases.

Kachikuwo: Confirmed the assualt
Kachikuwo: Confirmed the assualt of Msosa

Recently, governing People’s Party (PP) Eastern Region governor Samson Msosa was brutally assaulted by suspected UDF stalwarts in the same district.

Elijah Kachikuwo, Mangochi Police Officer-in-Charge confirmed the assault and said the police had some clues to make arrests. Msosa had sustained serious head cuts.

“What may have led to Msosa’s attack is that some sections of the Muslim community in Mangochi with strong links to the UDF are not happy with Muslim women supporting President Joyce Banda and her PP. The perception here is that Muslim must belong to the UDF and not any other political party,” explained the activist, preferring anonymity.

He said there are many other pockets of violence in some parts of Mangochi and Machinga that go unnoticed because of the ‘remotest’ nature of the places.

However, he said in collaboration with the Malawi Electoral Commission, his organization has stepped up the campaign against political violence.

“We are also conducting civic education on the need to detach religion from politics. We recently held a meeting with top UDF district officials from Balaka, Machinga and Mangochi where we asked them to desist from confusing the people about the UDF being the party for Muslims only. We told them such politics has resulted in anarchy in other countries,” said the activist.

The UDF has denied the allegations.

But UDF regional governor for East, Abubakar Mbaya terms it as “a wild allegation, concocted, fabricated and baseless.”

Malawi is expected to hold tripartite elections on May 20 and 7.5 million voters are expected to choose the President, parliamentarians and councillors. 12 presidential candidates are expected to contest the polls.

Muluzi of the UDF will battle it out in the presidential race against PP’s President Banda Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party and Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as four leading contenders among 12 presidential aspirants.

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