April 1 2020
The run up to the by-elections held last Tuesday saw ugly scenes in the Karonga North West Constituency when Tonse Alliance partners UTM Party and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) rolled up sleeves and whack each other to make political sense in their weird ways.
Police reports indicated that deep in the night, UTM Party supporters raided Lovemore Lodge and Pacific Lodge, where they smashed four MCP vehicles, injuring five people in the process. UTM director of youth (North) Mzondi Mkandawire was arrested and released for the fracas.
It is not the first time that violence has reared its ugly head in Karonga and it appears there is no lasting solution to it all.
In fact, the Karonga Central Constituency is renowned by the moniker Benghazi because it is a violent and volatile political hotspot. Why Karonga earns such a bad name, God knows.
It is a given fact that Karonga taints democracy. Democracy embodies the notion that you give an opportunity for those with an opinion contrary to ours to air it freely and without fear. Violence only breeds bad results.
The mere fact that the recent case occurred between UTM and MCP, who are political bedfellows, shows you that the violent spirit in Karonga is just too deep.
The violence between the two parties should really scare the leaders of the two parties, President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulos Chilima. The rifts on the ground do not sink well with the alliance and it speaks volumes that all may not be well.
What is even appalling is that it is apparent that political parties, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), the civil society and the people in Karonga at large have no solution to the barbaric acts. That is, not to mention the police.
All the stakeholders are doing is condemn the acts. While we heard of other violent incidents in Nsanje between MCP and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a lasting solution to the Karonga violence is necessary.
While we are at it, the DPP has itself to blame for emerging the biggest loser in the March 30 2021 by-elections. The former ruling party has been weakened by three seats in Parliament.
That the DPP is a party in a leadership crisis is an open secret. It is clear that there is in-fighting within the rank and file of the former ruling party since its leader Peter Mutharika was wrestled out of power.
When we needed a strong opposition in Parliament, the DPP squabbles are affecting that journey. It is also clear that the support the party may have enjoyed in the past is fading.
During the run-up to the by-elections, it was clear that the DPP leaders were not going to sell the candidates, but rather positioning themselves as presidential hopefuls.