Malawi Offers half a million for Information

Armed police going after demostrators on July 20, many were shot dead

Malawi government is offering K500,000 (US$3,033) to anyone with information on who is behind the petrol bomb attacks on activists and arson attacks on Blantyre and Lilongwe markets.

“Anyone with information on the people that are starting the fires will be given K500,000 cash….we want to catch the culprits,” Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said when asked about what government is doing about the attacks.

The latest arson attack on the Area 47 home of Salimu Bagus – the People’s Party secretary general- and the mysterious fires that destroyed Blantyre market and Tsoka market in Lilongwe, come two days before the planned protests.

Activists have set September 21 as a day of protests across the country after the UN facilitated dialogue failed last week. Many fear that the fresh protests may be worse than July 20 which left 20 people dead.

The attacks also come after Malawi’s Human Rights Commission accused President Bingu wa Mutharika of inciting violence against critics that has led to petrol bomb attacks on the properties of two leading activists.

Since then the Balaka home of activist Rev MacDonald Sembereka was petrol bombed last week and the offices of Rafiq Hajat, another leader of the July protest, were set on fire.

The crackdown on the protests have caused international donors, whose aid normally accounts for a third of the government budget, to shun the impoverished southern Africa country.