Rival supporters of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and People’s Party (PP) fought on the last day of campaign in Mzimba on Saturday, resulting in damage to vehicles.
Both sides accused the other of provoking the situation which bordered on routes for the final round of campaigning.
DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi accused PP of blocking the route for a whistle stop tour for the party’s interim president Peter Mutharika, accusing PP’s Mzimba South West campaign coordinator Frank Mwenifumbo of perpetrating the violence.
He said as they were on their way to Edingeni, a PP convoy led by Mwenifumbo and another PP official Salim Bagus blocked their way.
“We exercised restraint and stayed there for some time because we didn’t want violence,” Dausi said.
“We saw it as blatant provocation because these (PP) people were in the area with their leader on Friday and nobody interrupted their program
“Mind you, we had changed our programme and went through Jenda instead of Mzimba because we were advised that we might cause tension because the President was at Mzimba.”
However, Mwenifumbo dismissed Dausi’s accusations and instead blame DPP’s northern region governor Christopher Ngwira of blocking their convoy and breaking his car’s mirror glass and snatching PP flags.
He said PP officials were driving to Kapopo Muhlanga village from Edingeni when they were blocked by a car driven by Ngwira.
Ngwira got out of the car and started banging our cars asking why we were there. Bagus and I were in the same car and he came and banged it as well. We have lodged a complaint with the police, and we are asking him to bring back our flags and fix the mirror he broke from my car,” Mwenifumbo said.
“It was necessary that we be in the constituency because today [Saturday] was the final day of the campaign and we needed to drum up as much support as possible.”
However, Ngwira disputed Mwenifumbo’s claims, saying he could not perpetrate violence in the presence of Mutharika whom he said he respected so much.
He, however, questioned why PP officials were in places booked for DPP rallies.
Mzimba Police spokesperson Gift Nyirongo said his office was not aware about the incidents and had not received an report about them.
“We are just hearing this from the media,” Nyirongo said.
Saturday was the last day for campaign, which officially ended at 6am Sunday, ahead of the by-elections in Mzimba Central and Mzimba South West Tuesday and the two sides swapped the campaign areas they had been to on Friday.
Mutharika was in Mzimba Central as President Joyce Banda wound up the PP campaign for Mzimba South West and went opposite ways on Saturday.
Tomorrow’s elections are seen as a litmus test for both DPP and PP following the death of DPP leader and former president Bingu wa Mutharika, which resulted in regime change that ushered in PP and President Banda into power.