MULANJE (Malawian Watchdog)—Barely a week into the by-election campaign period in Mulanje District, reports have emerged that some chiefs in Traditional Authority Mabuka are denying main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) the opportunity to hold campaign rallies in their area.
The issue was revealed on Wednesday during a Multi-Party Liaison Committee (MPLC) meeting held in the district in preparation for the forthcoming April 10 by-election in Traditional Authority Mabuka’s Mulanje South-East Milonde Ward.
Mulanje District Secretary for Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Prudence Mkoma told the meeting that her party has suffered rejection from chiefs in Mulanje who said they did not recognize MCP and that it is not accepted in the area.
“As MCP, we fear what is happening on the ground, we have been denied permission to hold rallies by three chiefs so far, Nsona, Namunda and Nansasala. They are saying they don’t know us and we are not welcome,” said Mkoma.
She further said ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have also been violent towards the party’s members to the point that they wanted to withdraw from the by-elections.
“Just three days ago we had a rally and one of our supporters had his party shirt torn by supporters from another party who came to disturb and we reported the matter to police. They verbally harassed us. It’s like they wanted us to respond so that there should be violence. Something must be done quickly,” she said.
Malawian Watchdog investigation has revealed that the Chiefs are obeying an order from Lomwe Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa who ordered Senior Chief Mabuka to tell his chiefs to block MCP rallies and vowed that the same tactics of frustrating MCP in the entire Lomwe belt will be applied in the build up to 2019 elections.
“You know our Paramount is a DPP diehard and he doesn’t want what happened during last year’s by-election where MCP won the by-elections to happen again at his controlled Lomwe belt. This is why we were advised to put spanners so MCP should not even get significant votes during the coming by-election. They say the same tactic will be used in the entire Lomwe belt as we approach 2019. They say Lomwe belt is no go zone for MCP,” said one junior chief in the area on strict condition of anonymity.
“I fear what will become of this country if other paramount chiefs in other regions here in Malawi decide to give similar orders to their chiefs to ban, let’s say, DPP, in their areas. It will be chaos. I wish every political party was allowed to campaign and let people decide on the voting day and not what is happening,” reasoned the chief.
“Our beloved Paramount must reverse this order. You remember what happened in Thyolo during Amai’s (Joyce Banda) time, a policeman was killed because of the same senseless orders. Do we want to have similar ugly situations because of politics,” the chief queried.
Meanwhile Senior Chief Mabuka, as a smokescreen, has said he will call all his chiefs and advise them to stop the misconduct to ensure peaceful by-elections.
District Commissioner for Mulanje and MPLC Coordinator, Charles Makanga has also ordered that MPLC meet with all chiefs on Thursday to discuss how best the sad development can be handled to ensure good conduct during the campaign period.
“The whole country right now is looking at us and watching the by-elections with keen interest. Let’s not let them down. We need to sit with the chiefs and sensitize them on how best they should conduct themselves as traditional leaders to ensure peaceful by-elections,” he said.
He then advised all political parties to advise their supporters to refrain from actions that might compromise a peaceful and fair by-election.