Malawi: Activists Condemn DPP Attack On Post-Election Protesters - 'Malawi Sliding Into Dangerous Spiral of Impunity'

DPP cadets blocking the way of protesters.
25 September 2019

Several human rights activist and commentators on Wednesday warned authorities against letting the country degenerate into a state of lawlessness after members of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth wing -- commonly referred to as cadets -- attacked Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) official Billy Mayaya and others who were injured.

Governance expert Makhumbo Munthali, rights activist Charles Kajoloweka and legal expert Ralph Kasambara went on chorus in their social media posts to condemns the savage attacks.

"Saying it without fear or favour, the disruption to the HRDC demos and an assualt on human rights defender Billy Mayaya by the ruling party DPP Cadets was clearly systematic and organised by those in high echelons of the DPP in the Southern Region," Munthali said.

He argued that there was a "political endorsement" to the "barbaric" from what he called enemies of democracy.

DPP operatives were captured in video clips when they attacked protesters who were passing by Trade Fair Grounds in the city where Agriculture Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa was opening the National Agriculture Fair.

The protesters were on their way to Mounth Soche Hotel where the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) was hosting an annual conference of the electoral commissions in Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and they were going to present a petition to demand MEC Chairperson, Jane Ansah, to step down.

DPP supporters blocked the road and the two sides started pelting stones to each other before the Cadets armed with sharp objects and pangas attacked the protesters injuring many including renowned human rights activist, Mayaya who has been severely hacked on the head.

Mayaya was rushed to Queen Elizabeth's Central Hospital in Blantyre and later he later posted a picture on his Facebook account with a caption; "after being attacked by stones and an iron bar".

Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka observed that Malawi;s democracy is under threat with political violence supported by the regim.

"We have a government which long decided it is there to serve and protect its few," said Kajoloweka.

He said hiring thugs to attack people exercising their democratic right is no peace.

"For months now, Malawi is sliding into a dangerous spiral of violence and impunity with attacks on opposition voices taking place daily. If we indeed claim to be as democratic as we say, reprisals against those holding dissenting views against the government should not be tolerated. The Police and all authorities should meet their human rights obligations," Kajoloweka said.

In his pots, legal expert and former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara wrote that the "unthinkable happened" when DPP cadets were pelting the Malawi Judiciary headquarters during their barbaric acts.

"The fountain of Justice has been desecrated.What does that mean? They've no respect for the Judiciary?

"Several judicial officers were denied entry into the Courts building at Chichiri," wrote Kasambara a senior counsel.

"I had a 10:00am court appearance. To avoid the cadets I decided to park my car at ShopRite and asked the driver to immediately drive away. Whilst walking to the Courts building the cadets started pelting at any car and pedestrian walking past old Stagecoach Buildings.

"Fortunately I saw a judicial officer frantically reversing. I unceremoniously jumped into it and apologized later for being an intruder or as it were unauthorized passenger. The officer simply laughed it off seeing the tense situation on the ground.

That is how I missed an important court appointment today. Courtesy of our zealous DPP cadets," he wrote.

The HRDC and the opposition in Malawi have been holding demonstrations to force the MEC chairperson to resign for allegedly mismanaging the May 21 presidential election that saw president Peter Mutharika win.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties are contesting the May 21 presidential results in court and they are pushing for nullification of the results and that a rerun of the elections should be conducted.

President Mutharika recently told BBC that he could not fire Ansah on the given grounds and Ansah, too, told the local media that she would not resign "because the matter is in court."

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