By Cyrus Bengo
The laws of the land and the spirit of the peace accord signed by political parties, politicians have been unleashing violence on their opponents since the onset. For instance, today ghasty violence erupted which the president Dr Lazarus Chakwera condemned.
Supporters of the Malawi Congress Party MCP and those from United Transformation Movement UTM this morning during the official opening of the MBS laboratory and office complex exchanged blows which according to capital FM, UTM supporters were outnumbered.
The fracas left some UTM supporters injured and boycotting Dr Chakwera’s rally at the Kamuzu Upper Stadium.In any case, the large-scale violence witnessed during the presidential election, particularly in Lilongwe put paid to any suggestions that the country’s politicians are not willing to play fair.
With the war-like disposition of contestants and their intemperate utterances, however, it is reasonable to expect large-scale violence in the absence of concrete action by security agencies to stem the tide. This is not a mischievous prognosis, our projection is rooted in recent developments. If the tide of violence is to subside, particularly as those who lost out during the presidential election will try and do everything within their power to win the next round of elections while the victors will want to add to their trophies.
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera and the security agencies will have to do far much more as we are approaching the general election than deploying soldiers and policemen to monitor the elections. They will have to be deliberately tactical and balanced in how they contain any violence that may come up before, during and after the elections.
They must show that those who thrive by snatching ballot boxes, beating up perceived opposition voters and dumping ballot boxes in drainages are in for doom this time around.
The point has been clearly made that Malawian politicians are intent on politicking only through violence in spite of the extensive efforts to ensure the absence of violence through the signing of peace accords by political parties and key political actors. That is why rather than abating, political violence is increasing, making politicking in the country essentially a violent affair. And there is simply no way the government can speak of a conducive environment for elections where violence dot and define the political landscape.
It is, therefore, important for the government to act with despatch to stop the orgy of violence and return the country to a peaceful atmosphere. This violence must stop, and it must stop now. It shows that the politicians have not learnt the proper lessons from previous outings and the government, as the authority vested with the maintenance of law and order, must shake off its lethargy and confront political violence and its perpetrators with the repressive apparatuses of the state. It must protect innocent voters from political buccaneers. It must show that the belief that human life counts for nothing where political ambition is concerned is gravely mistaken.
We expect the government to see the issue of political violence as a problem serious enough to truncate the entire political and electoral processes and act decisively act on the situation to assure Malawians of an environment more conducive to politics and politicking.