Waves of threats, intimidation rock Karonga Central ahead of by-election
By Jordan Simeon-Phiri-MEC Stringer
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Karonga Central Constituency chairperson Wickson Kawonga has expressed worry over continued waves of attacks, threats, and intimidation meted out on their supporters around Mwenilondo with hours before people in the area decide who to send to Parliament through a ballot on Tuesday.
In an interview, claimed UTM party supporters last evening went door to door at night around Mwenilondo issuing threats to people deemed to be MCP’s candidate Leonard Mwalwanda, telling them not to go to polling centres to cast their votes otherwise they will be beaten up.
According to Kawonga, the fracas came to a boiling point when a 23-year-old Ellina Msiska and two others from Mwangolera village in the area of Paramount Chief Kyungu was assaulted by unknown people when she went to a maize mill nut was stopped and told to go to Mlare, a place believed to be Mwalwanda’s stronghold.
He said: “People in the area are living in fear. Threats are rife from UTM Party supporters. They are assaulting people believed to be MCP supporters, barring them from drawing water from boreholes, stopping them from milling their maize in maize mills around Mwenilondo. This is retrogressive as people will not be able to exercise their right to vote who to represent them in the august house”.
The assaults come a week after the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairman Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale had issued a stern warning to all contesting candidates against the use of hate speech and incitation of political violence which he said has the potential to scare away voters and threatened to halt the by-elections if the trend continued.
However, in an interview, UTM Party regional governor for the Northern region Dr. Moses Malunga feigned ignorance on the matter, saying he has not heard anything to do with the said assault.
Meanwhile, a snap visit to Chiwondo, Mwenilondo, Lupembe, and Lughali polling centres in the area has established that there are no tamper-evident and preprinted envelopes for tomorrow’s voting exercise.
However, MEC Commissioner Dr. Anthony Mkumbwa who is in the district overseeing the process has assured voters that the missing materials will be available by end of business today.
He said: “The reason why we carry out the opening exercise on the eve of polling is to rectify such challenges so that we don’t experience hiccups on polling day.
On the escalating waves of threats and assaults, the Commissioner said MEC is closely working with the Police to ensure peaceful elections that will not discredit the credibility of the polls.
In an interview, Karonga police station publicist sub inspect Enock Livason has assured the electorates’ security, saying police has intensified patrols and security in the area to ensure that voting is held in a peaceful environment.
About 16, 180 voters are expected to cast votes tomorrow in the 22 polling centres in the constituency in what is seen as a closely contested by-election.