By Dennis Chirwa, Nyasa Times
Government spokesperson Simon Vuwa Kaunda says he is not aware that ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Youth Cadets riding on party branded pick-ups brandished and wielded machetes in the streets of Blantyre in open trucks on July 19, threatening ‘to deal’ with anybody opposing government.
At least five official DPP vehicles carrying the machete-wielding DPP Youth Cadets – a youth wing of the ruling party – were seen driving around the city of Blantyre only hours after two vehicles belonging to an independent private radio station were set alight by masked men ahead of anti-government nationwide demonstration.
“I do not know, maybe you saw them, maybe you can tell me what happened because I was not in Blantyre,” said Vuwa Kaunda on Capital radio’s News Talk.
The youths would stop their vehicles in the middle of the roads, jump out and start symbolically sharpening their weapons against the tarmac.
As they did this, they chanted the now familiar DPP war-cry in Malawi’s lingua franca, Chichewa: ‘Onyoza boma sagona, timpweteka! (‘Those opposing government will not sleep, we will deal with them!’).
The vehicles were the official blue open pick-ups complete with the DPP insignia.
But the armed youths were seen passing past both traffic and general duties police officers who let them proceed with their war cries unchecked.
At one point a fritters’ vendors mouthed something unpalatable against government and the DPP Youth Cadets swarm around him like bees. When they were done with him, he had not only lost his basin of fritters but a few pints of blood as well.
Nobody was arrested despite uniformed police officers being seen nearby.
Kaunda, who is also Minister of Information and Civic education, said he was not in Blantyre on the day the DPP vehicles moved around the city threatening people not to go to demonstrations against government.
When quizzed by the program presenter Brian Banda how a government spokesperson was adamant on the matter, the minister insisted that he knew nothing on the matter.
DPP newly appointed secretary general Wakuda Kamanga has however said the party is investigating the matter.
Vuwa also claimed that government did not know anything about the injunction stopping the protests obtained by Chiza Mbekeyani on a day before the demonstrations.
This, however, was contrary to what, Mbekeyani, currently on self imposed exile in Tanzania, told local media that he was given money by government top dogs to seek an injunction stopping the marches.
On accusations that Mutharika ought to have attended burial of the victims of 20th July demonstrations instead of visiting buildings that were burnt, Kaunda said the president had assisted the bereaved families in many ways.
“It’s against our culture to announce anything you have done to those that have lost their loved ones, a lot of things were done and one of them was the buying of coffins for the deceased,” said Vuwa.
President Mutharika has of late visited shops that were burnt or looted during the 20th July riots that claimed close to 20 lives. However, the country’s Vice President Joyce Banda has visited some of the families that were affected.—(Additional reporting by Pana)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :