Government has dismissed Vice President Saulos Chilima’s apology regarding the attack on a journalist in Blantyre last week.
The government is not happy with Chilima’s statement that the attack on journalist George Banda “emanated from a case of mistaken identity”.
In a statement yesterday, Minister of Information Henry Mussa condemned the suggestion by Dr. Chilima – who is also leader of opposition UTM – that the violence against Mr. Banda is regrettable because Banda was not the target.
“This suggestion is worrying because it means that in the view of the UTM leader, violence against all their targets is fine and acceptable.
“Government urges all peace-loving Malawians to roundly take exception to this kind of policy by UTM. It is a dangerous and evil policy. Violence, regardless of the target, is unacceptable,” Mussa said.
He then urged Chilima to mention the individual who was mistaken for the journalist Banda and provide the reasons why the targeted person deserved to be harmed.
Mussa also expressed hope that the law enforcement agencies of the state will ensure that all those that are being targeted by the UTM are protected and those that are plotting violence against the party are investigated and brought to book.
“We believe Dr. Chilima has given these agencies a starting point,” Mussa said.
UTM members attacked the journalist Banda at Comesa Hall in Blantyre on Wednesday where Chilima presented his nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission.
In a letter to the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi, Chilima apologised for the incident saying he was disgusted and shocked.
“This letter also serves to reiterate my personal commitment and that of UTM to ensuring that the media operates freely and without hindrance in this country in line with the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press, and indeed freedom of expression. UTM is founded on the principles of peace and tolerance. As such, the incident was regrettable,” Chilima said.
He added that his aides contacted Banda who told them that he lost money and his phone during the incident.
Meanwhile, MISA Malawi has expressed gratitude for the remorse that Chilima and his party have shown.
In a statement, MISA Malawi chairperson Terersa Ndanga said her organisation will be following up to ensure Banda is duly compensated for his losses.
“We would also like to urge UTM and all political parties to ensure that such incidents never happen again. We expect political leaders to also have internal disciplinary systems that would ensure no violence takes place during the entire political cycle.
“MISA Malawi is also urging the police to remain vigilant in the prevention of attacks against journalists. It is our hope that those who attacked Banda and other journalists in the past, will face the law,” Ndanga said.