President Peter Mutharika on Friday warned that he will crush demonstrations and ensure that those that have been staging violent protests in dispute of the May 21 electoral results are arrested.
Mutharika was addressing thousands of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters at the gates of Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, after their victory solidarity march in Blantyre.
The President boasted that his party won the May 21 Tripartite Elections fair and square and that he will not allow opposition parties to continue with their violent protests.
“That is why they were not voted into power. They will remain in opposition forever. I brought you development, but they are burning infrastructure—they are burning schools, destroying roads.Let me warn you, ndikufinyani (I will crush you), the law will take its course,” he said.
Mutharika, who spoke in less than 10 minutes, after the demonstrators waited for him for about an hour before he appeared and ascended atop a Land Rover box body, advised the party followers to unite and strengthen the party at all levels.
Most followers, ferried in from districts in the Southern Region, looked exhausted and some did not hide their disappointment that their march only ended at the gates of Sanjika Palace.
“We thought it was one of those big parties, that we would stay on and have at least time to chat with our President at the mini stadium inside; but we understand, he is a busy man,” said one supporter who chose not to be identified.
But facial expressions and body language spoke loud of the supporters’ high expectations for more fun. The supporters, who headed for the gates, had to be restrained by security personnel to keep distance while the party’s top officials were seen busy liaising with the security officials of what was to happen next.
Vice-President Everton Chimulirenji, who also joined the march, waited with the demonstrators for the President at the gates.
Mutharika, whether he meant it, or it was out of a joke, said he was having a meeting at the palace and was only told he had visitors at the gate and decided to come and attend to them.
“I thank you that you came. I had to cut short my meeting. This is the spirit. I also thank those who joined the demonstrations in support of [Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson] Jane Ansah organised by women. That’s being human,” he said.
Hordes of the party followers, including Gulewankulu, made it back to town on foot, looking weary.
The Vice-President, in an interview during the march, said the DPP was not shaken with the electoral case launched by the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM, challenging Mutharika’s victory.
Chimulirenji, who is also DPP national campaign director, said the party proceeded with the victory march despite that the matter was in court, because the party is convinced it won the polls and what MEC announced is a true reflection of people’s will.
“If the court rules contrary to what MEC announced, that will be another case. But what we know is that the elections were peaceful, free and fair,” said Chimulirenji.
He observed that the party wil hold similar marches in the Central, Northern and Eastern regions.
The march, which was led by some DPP senior officials, who included DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffery, spokesperson Nicholas Dausi and director of women Cecilia Chazama, started at exactly 11.03am, with hundreds of DPP supporters.
The demonstrators marched from the DPP office in Sunnyside, via Victoria Avenue up to Sunbird Mount Soche, connecting into Glyn Jones Road all the way to Clock Tower Roundabout, before turning into Haile Selasie Road and then straight to Sanjika Palace.
Shops in town remained open, as opposed to a situation when anti-government demonstrations are taking place, and Jeffrey, in her speech at Sanjika, said that was a sign that the DPP is a peaceful party.