Malawi’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) notorious youth cadets have warned journalists covering the case of l former agriculture minister, George Chaponda, who faces graft charges over a procurement contract with neighbouring Zambia, saying they will be attacked.
The DPP rough necks in the presence of party Regional Governor for South, Charles Mchacha MP, threatened the journalists covering Chaponda’s bail hearing at Blantyre Magistrate Court.
Threatening the journalists, the DPP cadets were overheard saying: ” Mujambula chnai? Tiphwanya zimenezo, Ndife owe aja azikwanje aja [Why are yoy taking pictures? We will break your cameras. We the same panga-wielding gang].”
They added: ” Mumati mutani inuyo, watulukabe bwana [you thought the boss would remain in custody, he’s out now.].”
The Panga-wielding gang are known for their notoriety when they threatened protestors on the streets of Blantyre a day before the July 20 2011 anti-government demonstrations.
The gang of machete-wielding youths took to the streets in DPP branded vehicles and stopped at several points, got out their vehicles and sharpened their pangas. They chanted the DPP war-cry in Malawi’s lingua franca, Chichewa: “Onyoza boma sagona, timpweteka! (“Those opposing government will not sleep, we will deal with them!”).
Chaponda, 74, was arrested by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officers in the southern city of Blantyre on Tuesday over his role in the procurement of emergency food from Zambia last year.
He accused Malawians of condemning him for doing what he thought was for the benefit of starving Malawians.
Chaponda, who is DPP vice-president responsible for its Southern Region stronghold, could not face the journalists after being branted bail as he was evacuated out of the courtroom through the entry restricted to Magistrates.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika in January ordered an investigation into a $34.5 million government maize order, after a Zambian opposition leader said he had seen documents showing Malawi had been charged $345 per tonne for 100,000 tonnes of Zambian white maize worth $215 a tonne.