The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), through Umunthu Initiative, yesterday organised a free music show at Kamuzu Stadium upper ground in Blantyre where alcoholic drinks were sold to the youth at heavily subsidised prices.
The event, termed youth festival, was believed to have been organised to counter the Southern Region launch of the United Transformation Party (UTM) at Njamba Freedom Park, just two kilometres away.
In an interview yesterday, DPP regional governor for the South Charles Mchacha, who was present at the event, confirmed that the festival was sponsored by the party.
He said the money came from the party’s regional account and other DPP members.
Said Mchacha: “DPP is a party which has structures. At regional level, we hold different fundraising activities. Money for this event came from our regional account which we, as a party, use. Some of it came from well-wishers who are members of our party.”
Blantyre City Council chief executive officer Alfred Chanza said they received a request from Umunthu Initiative and granted them permission.
But Mchacha said he was not aware of any links between DPP and Umunthu Initiative.
In an interview with The Nation, one of the event organisers, Collins Chitimbe, a musician and DPP Blue League deputy national chairperson, said they spent K25 million on the event.
He said Umunthu Initiative is a grouping of well-wishers who have put together money to provide youths with loans under the National Youth Empowerment Programme, which they launched yesterday.
The organisers were seen distributing loan forms bearing an Umunthu Initiative logo, but with no address or names of officials.
Musicians Joseph Nkasa Dan Lu and Nepman performed at the show where Chibuku opaque beer was given out for free, while Carlsberg beer was sold at K200 from K700.
Ironically, DPP national spokesperson Nicholas Dausi denied that the party funded the event.
He said: “It’s not DPP which organised the event. Our Constitution allows freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. It’s not a crime for anybody to assemble so long as they do so peacefully. You want other people not to assemble? People are exercising their inherent right to assemble.”
In a separate interview, Chancellor College political scientist Mustafa Hussein observed that for DPP to organise the festival within the vicinity of the UTM launch was a clear indication that the governing party is worried about the momentum the movement is gaining.
He said the DPP could have used the money for other developmental activities such as buying medical drugs in public hospitals, saying many services are suffering because of lack of resources.
Said Hussein: “It clearly shows that the DPP is worried about the momentum that UTM is gaining and it was like a de-campaigning tactic. Questions will be asked on why the DPP is spending all this money on unethical politics. Malawi being a prayerful nation, distributing beer on Sunday can be considered unethical.
“It also raises questions as to where the money came from. There are a lot of problems in the country such as shortage of drugs, many street kids. There are so many services that require money. The DPP should think of using resources prudently.”
During UTM’s first launch at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe last week, there were several activities organised concurrently, including two football matches between Malawi Under 20 and South Africa and Nyasa Big Bullets versus Silver Strikers.