Ugly scenes in Chitipa, Rumphi

Whereas the situation was generally peaceful during Ant-Jane Ansah protests in Mzuzu, things turned ugly in Rumphi and Chitipa where government and private companies were targeted and torched.

Specifically in Chitipa, where as early at 8:30m protesters had delivered their petition, but some went berserk, targeting Chipiku stores, department of forestry, Kulima Gold and Farmers World.

They torched the Forestry office, stonned Kulima Gold offices before breaking into Chipiku.

Chitipa HRDC coordinator Sydney Simwaka said things went out of hand because people were mixing issues.

“When we arrived at the DC’s office some people wanted to proceed to Malawi Revenue Authority [MRA] and Northern Region Water Board offices, but we controlled them.

“Then at the DC’s office, people started mentioning so many issues that they have against the DC, Admarc, and other government offices.

He said protesters accused the DC of failing them, while Admarc officials were being accused of prioritising Tanzanian nationals when buying maize.

So when the DC wanted to speak after receiving the petition, some people started pelting stones, and one police office fired teargas, worsening the situation,” he explained.

According to Simwaka, District Commissioner Humphrey Gondwe did not speak to the crowd, as protesters dispersed after police fired teargas.

Chitipa police publicist, Gladwell Simwaka confirmed the damages at Chipuku, KUlima Gold, Farmers World, but also stoned and broke glasses for the Old Chamber at the DCs office which houses Sports, Community Development as well as Labour offices.

“Others then torched the Forestry Office, while at Farmers World, they went away with some bags of fertilizer and some mattresses. At Kulima Gold and Chipiku, they didn’t cause much damage because we rushed to control the situation.

“The Forestry office has been torched, while the Old Chamber has windows heavily damaged. The Education officer was also stoned. So far we have not arrested anyone, but we continue monitoring the situation,” he said.

In Rumphi, protesters, led by HRDC coordinator for the district Moir Walita Mkandawire marched peacefully to the DC’s office where they successful delivered the petition.

However, after delivering the petition, things also turned ugly in Rumphi, as some protesters tried to break into Chipiku Stores, forcing police to use teargas to disperse the crowd.

Northern region police publicist Peter Kalaya said four people have been arrested fo far in Rumphi.

“The demonstrations ended very well, but as some people were going home, others went to Chipiku. They didn’t get into the shop, but broke glasses and remove some burglar bars, and started getting things from the shop. We managed to control the situation ans four people have been arrested,” said Kalaya.

In the Northern city of Mzuzu, thousands marched from Katoto grounds to Civic Offices for over four hours, a distance that is just about three kilometres.

With the presence of heavily armed police and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers, it was generally, peacefully with so many stoppages, as they say down along the Orton Chirwa Highway and observed a minute of silence “for stolen elections”.

They also sang the Malawi National Anthem at will and danced to revolutionary songs, while others, as was the case during previous demonstrations, dressed a dog with ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) t-shirt.

Things almost turned ugly when some protesters set ablaze old chairs in the car park at Civic offices, but MDF and Police, including some demonstration organisers quickly put out the fire.

Delivering the petition in Mzuzu, HRDC coordinator for the North, Happy Mhango said they will not get tired, until Jane Ansah resigns from office.

“If she doesn’t resign, we will be here again on Tuesday and Thursday.

The other week, we will be in the streets the whole week. But I must thank MDF for guiding us that we march peacefully. This is what we want, let people march peacefully.

“For the first time, let me also commend the police. We haven’t sen teargas today, maybe people will start trusting them again. They have behaved very well, and we hope that they will continue. We don’t want a police that is trigger-happy, we are their comrades and they must understand it as such,” he said.

Director of Administration at Mzuzu City Council Christopher Phiri thanked the protesters for marching peacefully.

“As a council we don’t have any mandate to stop you from protesting. If you come again on Tuesday, you will find us, and today I thank you very much for being very peaceful, this is what we want, a demonstration with responsibility,” he said.

MEC declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winner of the presidential race in the May 21 Tripartite Elections with 1 940 709 votes or 38.57 percent.

He was trailed by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes (35.41 percent) while Chilima came third with 1 018 369 votes or 20.24 percent.

Chilima and Chakwera since filed petitions in court seeking nullification of the results over alleged irregularities. The Constitutional Court is set to start hearing the case on July 29.

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