BLANTYRE--Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) claims that People’s Party-led government is using the Malawi Police to stop opposition parties from campaigning effectiely in the run up to 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The claim follows police warning against imitating a convoy of President Joyce Banda, saying doing so is an offence under Section 109 (7) of the Road Traffic Act. The Section stipulates that other than traffic officers performing their duties, those driving motorcycles on a public road shall drive in a single file except in the course of overtaking another motorcycle.
University of Malawi law professor Edge Kanyongolo says there's no problem with the Act as it is aimed at ensuring safety on the country’s roads. National Police Deputy Spokesperson Kelvin Maigwa says they are just ensuring that motorcyclists follow the law which has been there for years.
“This Section does not say traveling on a convoy is not, but rather wrong when that convoy comprises motorcycles, then they have to conform to the Road Traffic Act.
“So anyone using motorcycles as part of their convoy should see to it that they move in a single file and should not in any way block traffic from the other direction,” said Maigwa.
But DPP doesn't think so. The party's acting president Peter Arthur Mutharika uses an elaborate convoy when traveling to political rallies.
“Ruling PP is using the police to suppress opposition parties. How can you stop somebody from using the said convoy as the police are saying,” queried Nicolas Dausi, DPP Publicity Secretary.
But Kanyongolo said: “This is a question of road safety. But...issues could be arising if it taken in the context of whether opposition political parties will be allowed to have a convoy.
“They can still have a convoy comprising motorcycles provided the riders conform to the Act,” said Kanyongolo.
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