MCP’s Msungama Spends Night in Police Custody

The police in Malawi on Sunday arrested an official of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) for alleged treason.

Ulemu Msungama was arrested following widespread social media reports that the police were searching for some MCP officials connected to an alleged plot to overthrow President Peter Mutharika.

The police at Kanego Station in the capital Lilongwe confirmed they were keeping Msungama after they were pressed to disclose his whereabouts by MCP leader Dr. Lazarus Chakwera late on Sunday.

Earlier deputy national police spokesperson Thomeck Nyaude had denied reports that Msungama had been arrested.

But when Dr Chakwera visited Kanengo Police Station it was confirmed the youthful politician had been kept in a holding cell.

His arrested is thought to be connected to an alleged WhatsApp conversion linked to him and other MCP officials that has been making rounds in the social media in Malawi.

Our reporter who visited Kanengo Police said by Sunday night Msungama had not been formally charged.

Dr. Chakwera said Kanengo Police Officer in Charge Snr Assistant Commissioner Denis Katuya told them Msungama could not be freed on Sunday evening because the law does not allow suspects to be visited or be accorded the opportunity of bail after working hours.

Dr Chakwera said the MCP will fight for the release of Msungama.

Msungama is currently waging a legal battle against the Malawi Electoral Commission after he lost in the parliamentary race of the May 2014 elections in Lilongwe City South Constituency.

Reports indicated MCP firebrand spokesperson Jessie Kabwila (MP) and another party official Louis Chankhwantha (MP) were in hiding.

Zodiak understands the police raided Dr. Kabwila’s Area 36 residence in Lilongwe demanding to talk to the legislator in the early hours of Sunday, but she was not home.

Dr. Kabwila’s mother, Valencia, has told Zodiak they were not aware of her whereabouts, or if she was indeed in hiding because she had not been in touch since Friday.

In the string of WhatsApp messages linked the MCP, they are, for instance, said to have conspired to pursue the Arab Spring-like revolution to overthrow president Mutharika and his government.

They are said to have been infuriated by what they see as the president’s failure to end a stinging food crisis that has seen maize prices triple in just under a few months and inflation exceed over 20%. The kwacha has also sharply fallen.

The MCP officials are said to have agreed to take advantage of the situation to call for a rebellion that would appear to have been sparked by Malawians in diaspora.

The arrest also came after the regime spoke strongly against critics that accused it of failure at a meeting called by the influential multi-religious grouping Public Affairs Committee in Blantyre last week.

Just minister Samuel Tembenu told Zodiak he had not been informed of the arrest.