Machete (panga)-carrying ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Youth Cadets plied the streets of Blantyre in open trucks Tuesday threatening “to deal” with anybody opposing government only hours after two vehicles belonging to an independent private radio station were smashed and set alight by masked men ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled nationwide demonstration against government.

Gospel Kazako, Managing
Director of Zodiak
Broadcasting Station (ZBS), told Maravipost.com a ZBS
outside broadcast Land Rover
vehicle was attacked and had
its windows smashed on
Saturday while another car
belonging to the same broadcaster was also attacked
and set alight on Sunday
night, also by masked men.

“We don’t want to assume
who is behind this,” he said.
“It’s becoming difficult to make anything out of this.”

Kazako, however, stoically
said in the absence of the
reason behind the attacks, his
radio station wouldn’t change
anything.

“We have no reason to be
afraid, we have no reason to
be scared because we don’t
know who is behind these
attacks nor their motive.”

He added: “We don’t think we have enemies among the 13
million Malawians so we
won’t change anything. Unless
these people are arrested and
we know them, we won’t
know who our enemies are. Our commitment to serve the
13 million Malawians with
unbiased radio broadcasts
remains unshaken.”

In a statement issued later
Tuesday, the six-year-old radio station – that has won
the hearts and minds of most
Malawians because of its
programming – said although
the station isn’t aware of who
is behind these “barbaric” criminal acts “the two
malicious damage attacks bear
common marks and we can
speculate that they are being
organised by a well-resourced
central command.”

The radio added: “The attacks
are a direct attack on media
freedom and freedom of
expression guaranteed in the
Constitution of the Republic of
Malawi.”

The media rights group, the
Media Institute of Southern
Africa (Misa-MALAWI), also
condemned the twin attacks
on ZBS, saying: “It is
disheartening that some people would want to instill
fear in media practitioners
who are doing their job
professionally in the country.”

Describing the Malawi media
as being “under siege” the MISA-Malawi statement –
signed by acting chairman
Anthony Kasunda – urged
authorities to step up security
of media houses and
journalists.

Meanwhile, as we count-
down to anticipated
demonstrations, at least five
official DPP vehicles carrying
the machete-wielding DPP
Youth Cadets – a youth wing of the ruling party – were
seen driving around the city
of Blantyre.

They stopped in
the middle of the road,
jumped off the back of the
vehicles and sharpened their weapons against the tarmac.

As they did this, they chanted
the now familiar DPP war-cry
in Malawi’s lingua franca,
Chichewa: “Onyoza boma
sagona, timpweteka! (“Those opposing government will
not sleep, we will deal with
them!”)

The vehicles were the official
blue small open pick-up
vehicles complete with the DPP insignia.

Southern Police spokesman
Dave Chingwalu, when
contacted, expressed surprise
at the news of the marauding
youths.

“I am not aware of these youths,” he told
Maravipost.com. “Let me
investigate, I’ll come back to
you.”

But the armed youths were
seen driving past both traffic and general duties police
officers who stood by and
watched.

At one point a
street vendor mouthed off
something against the
government. Upon hearing him, the DPP Youth Cadets,
like bees, swarmed him.

After
beating him up, they left him
bleeding and they jumped
onto their vehicles and drove
off. Nobody was arrested but uniformed police officers
were close to the scene.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Human
Rights Commission, the
Malawi Council of Churches
and the quasi-religious Public Affairs Committee (PAC) have
all urged both pro –
government supporters and
the demonstrators to exercise
restraint on Wednesday.

“The right to freedom of assembly and demonstration
is part of the laws of Malawi
and part of promotion and
respect of human rights,” read
the statement by the state-
funded MHRC signed by its outspoken chairman John
Kapito.

“As a country we
cannot afford to take away
these fundamental rights
because they form part of
democratic principles and respect for humanity.


Malawians plan to hold
demonstrations throughout
the country to protest against
a myriad of problems
besetting Malawi like persistent fuel and foreign
exchange (forex) reserve
shortages and what many a
commentator say is a clear
slide into dictatorship the
Mutharika administration.–@ maravipost

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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