With a few days to go before Karonga Central Constituents decide their next representative in the august house, the five candidates vying for the seat on Saturday reaffirmed their commitment to end political violence and promote peace and coexistence through issue based campaign ahead of the November 10, by-election.
The commitment which comes amid escalation of cases of political violence which according to Karonga Police officer in-charge Sam Nkhwazi has reached 8 in the volatile constituency, was made at the last multiparty liaison committee (MPLC) meeting at Chiwondo Teachers’ Development Centre (TDC) whose aim was to find long lasting solutions to attacks that have left both UTM party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters assaulted and injured.
In an interview, both UTM party and MCP candidates Frank Mwenifumbo and Leonard Mwalwanda whose supporters have recently been involved in scuffles promised to revert the situation which observers said emanate from youth who are given money for beer to wreak havoc to opponents and instead promote peace and coexistence for the sake of free, fair and credible elections accepted by all stakeholders.
“UTM party is a peaceful entity and it is the only party that has condemned the recent political violence in the constituency because we subscribe to pillars of peace and coexistence upon which the UTM is founded. That clearly demonstrates that we respect the status quo. Therefore, the last seven days will be peaceful,” said Mwenifumbo.
While MCP’s Mwalwanda said he has always preached peace throughout his campaign owing to his family upbringing.
He said: “If you go on the ground, you will notice that MCP is not involved in any political violence. We are on the ground with issue based campaign”.
However, when quizzed to establish from the police as to how many people have been arrested so far to deter would be perpetrators, the officer in-charge said investigations are underway to bring to book those suspected to have been involved in the act.
The meeting could, however, not agree on a proposal by the UTM party regional governor for the north Dr. Moses Mlenga who suggested that the MCP’s director of youth who is also the Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda should stop campaigning for the MCP candidate in the area, citing ‘conflict of interest’ as reasons behind the move.
In response, Karonga district MPLC chairperson Paul Kalilombe said that that call is beyond his jurisdiction, saying his office cannot bar anyone from campaigning for any candidate.
In his speech, National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust regional civic and education officer Vincent Kalawa condemned the political tension, saying leaders who castigate others and promote usage of hate speech do not have room in a democracy, adding, “If the electorates were here, we would have told them not to waste their time to vote for such leaders”.
Emotionally, Kalawa took his time to kneel down on his knees in apology to the independent candidate Shackie MaryFlorence Nthakomwa for being insulted by the UTM Party supporter after the live radio political debate NICE organised last week in Karonga.
Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) board chairperson Dr. Joseph Chidanti Malunga advised the five candidates to adhere to the code of conduct that guides the electoral calendar.
The MPLC meeting was jointly organised by CMD, NICE Public Trust and Justice and Peace of Karonga Diocese.