By Nenenji Mlangeni
BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s Minister of Local Government Ben Phiri Sunday bought booze worth millions of Kwachas for Blantyre Curio dealers asking them to ‘do anything possible to stop the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) demonstrations.
Phiri is said to have forced struggling and cash strapped Blantyre City Council (BCC) which reports directly to him to give him K20 million for Keep Blantyre City Clean campaign.
“After getting the money, Phiri went pa Ziboliboli in town and bought all the Curio dealers there expensive beers and whiskeys. He was only drinking water,” said a source.
One of the Curio dealers also confirmed Phiri told them to ‘get whatever we drink’ and in any quantities that we want.
“We had enough drinks and some to take home. Tinaumwa wa ulere ndithu,” said the vendor.
Another Curio vendor said Phiri also pleaded with them that they should do anything to stop HRDC demonstrations slated for one week from Monday next week shutting down airports and borders to force beleaguered Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Jane Ansah to resign.
“He pleaded that we should do something about it including beating up people who will be demonstrating. But the guys told him that they are there to enjoy the drinks and not violence,” he said.
“The Minister also told us to identify those who will be in the forefront in the demonstrations so that they should have their houses petrol bombed or attacked,” he added.
Phiri is said to have given cash amounting to K10 million to the group for their ‘transport and other necessities’ for the 26 August demonstrations.
HRDC leaders last week accused three cabinet ministers including Phiri, Charles Mchacha and Nicholas Dausi of masterminding attacks on its leaders including the petrol bombing of HRDC Chairman Timothy Mtambo’s home in Lilongwe on Thursday.
DPP has gone on the offensive in trying to suppress critics by intimidation and attacking opposition and civil society leaders.