Anti-Mec Chair Ansah demos; Malawi up in flames as looting, rampage, violence escalate
By Nenenji Mlangeni
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi is now up in flames following the two day demonstrations that started on July 4 to Friday, July 5 aimed at forcing embattled Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Dr. Jane Ansah for having a hand in May 21 polls’s electoral fraud.
The demonstrations organised by civil society organisation (CSOs) on Thursday turned ugly in the capital of Lilongwe and northern city of Mzuzu.
In Lilongwe, demonstrations started well but as protesters were about to reach the Capital Hill Roundabout, they started demolishing the renovations happening at the place as First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi Trust was putting statues as part of the renovations for the Roundabout.
“Demonstrators demolished the statues before stealing pipes from a planned water fountain,” said one eye witness.
Before people knew it, some people have already rushed to Spar Supermarket where they smashed the glass door to snake their way through and looted groceries.
Spar is near an electronics shop called M1 Electronics where the protesters also smashed their way through and stole different materials.
In Mzuzu, a building between veterinary and Mzuzu prison was also burnt.
And Mzuzu Agriculture Development Division (ADD) were also looted and about 200 bicycles were stolen in the process.
Mzuzu ADD programme manager Wellington Phewa said the marchers also had broken into their officers and went away with bicycles which were meant to be distributed to agricultural extension workers in Mzimba.
Malawi Defence Forces soldiers from Moyale Barracks intervened after police failed to quell the situation.
The soldiers stopped the marchers from storming the Mzuzu Prison ostensibly to free prisoners.
“We want to free inmates, we have criminals in power enjoying our tax so let us all be free out here,” said one of the protesters.
The protesters widely cheered MDF soldiers for protecting them and ensuring no violence takes place unlike the police’s heavy handedness.
The protesters were seen breaking offices, including those of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom). Commercial banks located along Mzuzu’s dual-carriageway Orton Chirwa Highway were not spared as NBS Bank, Standard Bank, Nedbank and First Capital Bank branches were affected.
The demonstrators also demolished perimeter fences for some buildings, smashed vehicles and shops, including Airtel Malawi and TNM plc kiosks.
In Blantyre, smashing of property has not been reported except running battles between the MDF soldiers and suspected DPP Cadets.
This comes after the Malawi International Trade Fair scheduled to take place last month was postponed when some countries pulled out citing political instability.
Some commentators have since said that if this type of violent demonstrations continues, it has the potential of scaring away investors thereby shrinking the economy of the country.
The CSOs argue that Ansah and her commissioners failed to manage the May 21 Tripartite Elections which were marred by irregularities, including the use of Tippex to alter some results sheets.
Today, main demonstration are happening in Blantyre where UTM Party leader Dr. Saulos Chilima is expected to lead.
This follows court clearance that demonstration be done peacefully.