Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is also UTM Party president, has condemned the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government for arresting Bon Kalindo, describing it as a ploy to scare opposition figures.
He was speaking at a rally held at Matenje Community Day Secondary School ground in Salima North West Constituency of Jessie Kabwila who dumped Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to join UTM three weeks ago.
Chilima, who also ditched DPP to lead the newly formed party, branded the arrest of Kalindo, UTM youth director as unlawful considering that the country voted for democracy which entrenches freedom of expression as one of its elements.
He said the country should not allow to slide back to the politics of intimidation of the pre-multiparty era.
“Some of us were here in 1992/93 when we were fighting the one party rule and we will not allow to slide back. Bon Kalindo is innocent and should be released. There are people who have been stoning police stations and are left scot-free because they belong to the ruling party. Just release him, he has done nothing wrong,” said a highly charged Chilima.
Kalindo was arrested on Thursday on charges that he insulted President Pater Mutharika at Balaka Police Station where Chilima went last Sunday to find out the reasons for the arrest of his two aides Joshua Valera and Kushiro Unyolo who represented him at a cultural ceremony at Liwonde.
“Let me assure you that none of us will be intimidated by these arrests, they will just make us stronger. No one should intimidate you.
“You are arresting us without any crime, but let me assure you that when we get in government we will arrest those with crimes, those who have stolen from you. Others did not have money in 2014, but are building mansions in lakeshore districts, we will turn those into hospitals after May this year,” said Chilima.
He said: “It’s unfortunate that I do not have a screen, I would have played you a clip where someone was insulting the President but was not arrested.”
Chilima also demanded that government further reduce fuel price from K800 to K700, saying that Malawians are digging deeper in their pockets to buy a commodity which is selling at a low price on the international market.
On her part, UTM secretary general Patricia Kaliati told the gathering that UTM has a priority to end hunger in the district which has abundant water flowing in Lake Malawi to ensure that every individual gets three meals a day.
She rebuked government for selling a bag of maize at K8 500 when vendors are selling it at a cheaper price.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has also called on government to release Kalindo.
In a statement released yesterday and signed by HRDC national chairperson Timothy Mtambo, vice-chairperson Gift Trapence and regional chairpersons Happy Mhango, Madalitso Banda, Masauko Thawe and Billy Mayaya, the coalition said Kalindo should immediately be released because the reasons for his arrest are undemocratic.
In an interview, Mtambo said government has tried before to use Section 4 of the Constitution to silence critics but was never successful.