Chiefs in Mulanje district are blocking opposition political parties from conducting campaign rallies in their areas.
Media reports indicate that chiefs in the area of Senior Chief Mabuka are not allowing Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) candidates to conduct campaign rallies.
Speaking during a Multi-Party Liaison Committee (MPLC) meeting held in the district in preparation for the forthcoming April 10 by-election in Mulanje South-East Milonde Ward, Governor for the United Democratic Front in the area Felix Maononga said there is tension in the ward caused by chiefs who are refusing to allow opposition political parties to conduct rallies.
“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 a chance to hold campaign rallies in their area.
“I fear this may affect our plans of having peaceful, free and fair by-elections,” said Maononga.
Speaking on the same, Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) District Secretary Prudence Mkoma said her party has so far been blocked 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,” She said.
Mkoma added that members of some political parties have also been aggressive towards the party’s members to the point that a candidate of the party wanted to pull out of 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,” said Mkoma.
Speaking on the issue, Senior Chief Mabuka said he will call all his chiefs and counsel them to stop the misconduct to ensure peaceful by-elections.
District Commissioner for Mulanje and MPLC Coordinator Charles Makanga instructed MPLC to meet with all traditional chiefs 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,” said Makanga.
He then asked all political parties to advise their supporters to refrain from actions that might compromise a peaceful and fair by-election.