UDF disowns UTM violence suspect

United Democratic Front (UDF) has disowned one Maurice Kasinde who is suspected to be the mastermind of political violence in Mangochi, saying he is not a member of the party’s security detail.

UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga made the position in an interview yesterday amid reports linking Kasinde, who is said to be on the run, to UDF and its president Atupele Muluzi.

Women in politics during a news conference protest against political violence

Police and civilian sources in Mangochi confided in The Nation yesterday that Kasinde is attached to the security detail of UDF and is seen close to Muluzi at some of the party’s events.

But Ndanga said: “As you are aware, Atupele Muluzi is a Cabinet minister and his security personnel are police. I personally know all people who work at Atupele Muluzi’s house and I don’t know this person you are talking about [Kasinde].

“At the party level, the head of security is director of youth who is Osman Sauzande. Maybe the guy you are talking about is one of the morale guys who rush to everything. If it is UTM Party, you will find such guys, come another party you will also find them on the forefront. How can you associate them with UDF?

“So, don’t associate Atupele Muluzi with that kind of barbaric action. Even UDF supporters in Mangochi are very angry with what happened on Sunday”.

Kasinde is said to be one of the political rough-necks who masterminded the assault on Sunday of members of Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s UTM Party on their way to a rally in Makanjira.

In the Mangochi political violence, Veronica Katanga, 32, and her UTM Party colleagues were seen in a video clip being victimised by suspected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operatives. The clip went viral on the Internet on Sunday.

In the clip, the woman and some men were seen being ordered to take off their branded UTM Party T-shirts with Chilima’s portrait emblazoned on the chest.

The woman was also seen covering her exposed bra with a cloth (chitenje) offered by well-wishers.

The Mangochi incident was one of the cases of rising political violence and intimidations, mostly targeting UTM and Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

On Tuesday, women in politics issued a seven-day ultimatum to authorities to arrest the perpetrators of the violence or face street protests that will culminate into petitioning President Peter Mutharika, Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC).

But a day later, Mutharika and police swiftly moved into action, condemning political violence and arresting two suspected perpetrators Adam Masitala, 28, and Rajab Assan, 38, both from Ntagaluka Village, Traditional Authority Chowe in Mangochi on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

Meanwhile, police in Mangochi have arrested 12 more suspects in connection with the assault of UTM Party members.

While police sources said the 12 were being held at Mangochi Police Station following their arrest at Ntagaluka Trading Centre, widely  known as M’baluku in T/A Chowe, assistant spokesperson Amina Tepani-Daud denied knowledge of the new development.

But the sources said the 12 were awaiting identification by the victims.

Malawi Police Service has come under fire, especially from opposition parties, civil society organisations and Malawi Law Society, for turning a blind eye to cases of political violence notably against the opposition sympathisers

Opposition political parties, notably MCP and UTM, have accused DPP of unleashing the rising terror through its youth cadets.

But in his statement on Wednesday, Mutharika failed to rebuke DPP cadets for allegedly fuelling political violence.

UDF, which is in a working relationship with DPP in Parliament, on Wednesday distanced itself from the allegations that some of the perpetrators of violence are its members.

The party has also condemned the Mangochi incident.

In a statement signed by UDF vice-president for Eastern Region Lillian Patel, the party said it was disturbed that some had the audacity to assault a fellow human being.

DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, who is also Minister of Homeland Security, earlier this week also denied that DPP members were unleashing violence, claiming the perpetrators were masquerading as DPP youth cadets.

Over the past two weeks, the country registered a number of political violence cases, including the assault of Mulanje South legislator and UTM director of youth Bon Kalindo, assault of MCP supporter Edward Govati in Blantyre and the torching of MCP flags in Mangochi. n

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