Malawi Police have found a 20 litre container suspected to have contained the petrol which was used to bomb Rev MacDonald Sembereka’s house in Balaka – his home village.
Sembereka is a leading activist and one of the leaders calling for President Mutharika to explain his wealth, restore diplomatic ties with Britain and resolve the fuel and foreign exchange shortages that have left the southern African nation teetering on the brink of collapse.
Balaka police said that they found a petrol container abandoned at the scene.
“We suspect the container contained the petrol which was used to set the house on fire…our investigations, however, are still going on and so far we know that no casualties have been found,” Balaka police spokesman Titani Chadwala said in an interview.
Rev Sembereka is also national coordinator of the 90 member human rights consultative committee. The attack on his house is the second one in two weeks after Rafiq Hajat, another leading Mutharika critic and activist, had his office petrol bombed. Last week President Mutharika reshuffled his cabinet sacking 21 ministers and strengthening his family’s hold in the cabinet.Mutharika, who has been criticised for his autocratic style, remained in charge of defence, while his young brother and heir apparent, Peter, was appointed foreign minister and the first lady, Calista, was put in charge of HIV/AIDS and women’s affairs, an appointment that has already riled reformists. The shake-up followed major protests in July against the worsening economic plight of the average Malawian. Rights activists, including Rev Sembereka and Hajat also want Mutharika to sale off the private jet he bought himself in 2009 and trim his cabinet. Last week the President responded to one demand and slashed his cabinet to 32 from 42 ministers. But it still remains to be seen whether more protests are likely despite his decision on the cabinet. Many believe that more protests are likely because of recent attacks on leading activists. They [Activists] have set Sept. 21 as a deadline for the President to meet all the demands or they take to the streets.