Malawi President Joyce Banda's convoy came under attack Sunday when she took her re-election campaign to her main challenger's area. Banda was in Goliati Village in the tea-growing district of Thyolo where Peter Mutharika, presidential candidate for former president Bingu wa Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), hails from.
Tusekele Mwanyongo, an officer at President Banda communications office, told PANA Sunday evening that suspected DPP supporters stoned people and smashed car windscreens at a rally addressed by President Banda.
Police say two of President Banda's People’s Party (PP) members, Peter Chasweka and Patrick January, suffered deep cuts on their heads after they were pelted with stones.
'A PP Nissan Voxy, registration number BS 3879 used by the governing PP Provincial Chairperson for Southern Region, Isaac Nyakamera, and other PP and government vehicles were bashed and windows shattered, injuring most of the occupants,' said Mwanyongo.
He added that a Toyota PRADO, Registration Number MG 927, belonging to the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), was also extensively damaged and the particles of a broken windscreen seriously injured the eyes of two MBC journalists, Ronald Amos and Lorraine Kalilombe.
Director of Programmes at MBC Hamilton Chimala confirmed the incident in an interview, explaining that the two MBC employees were rushed to the Lions Eye Hospital at Queen Elizabeth Central for treatment.
Special Adviser to the President on Communication and Politics Elias Wakuda Kamanga told PANA in an interview that the DPP is intent on instilling fear in the people ahead of the 20 May elections.
“What they want to do is to force people to support them. The violence today was uncalled for and we condemn the DPP and its leadership in the strongest terms. We don’t want primitive politics that characterised the DPP reign between 2009 and 2011 to return,” he said.
Kamanga said Malawians have vivid memories of the “pain, anguish, suffering and death” following the 20 July, 2011 DPP-perpetrated violence and that they would not wish to see that “barbarism” again.
“Malawians witnessed some of the worst political violence under Mutharika and the DPP that time. We all know that houses of human rights and political activists were burnt in the middle of the night. Malawians remember how the Head of State then would challenge his own citizens to dare go into the street as he would deal with them.
'Bingu wa Mutharika had the audacity to tell purported detractors that he would ‘smoke them out’ and ordered the police to ‘shoot to kill’. Let’s all say no to the return of these ugly happenings,” said Kamanga.
President Banda was at Goliati on Sunday to officially ‘switch on’ electricity at Chimaliro Health Centre following a request Senior Chief Chimaliro.
President Banda, one of Africa's three female presidents, faces the voters on 20 May to renew her mandate to rule. She got to power after the sudden death of the elder Mutharika on 5 April, 2012.
Meanwhile, DPP spokesman Nicholas Dausi has disassociated his party from Sunday's violence, saying DPP president Peter Mutharika was not in the area.