Barely a week into the by-election campaign period in Mulanje District, there are reports that some chiefs in Traditional Authority Mabuka are denying some political parties 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.
Representing his party, Mulanje United Democratic Front (UDF) Governor Felix Maononga, alleged that there is currently tension in the ward caused by some traditional leaders who are rejecting some political parties to hold rallies saying their political party is not recognized. “I fear what is happening in Milonde. If this situation is not well handled, we will hear that someone has been buried because of the by-elections of only one ward. Some chiefs are denying some political parties [opportunity] to hold campaign rallies in their area.“I fear this may affect our plans of having peaceful, free and fair by-elections,” he said.
Mulanje District Secretary for Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Prudence Mkoma also alleged that her party has suffered such rejection by three chiefs 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 members of some political parties 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.
Meanwhile Senior Chief Mabuka 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.
Reporting by Mana