Mr. Mutharika, however, pinned full blame for the riots on civil society leaders.
“They are telling vendors to loot businesses,” Mutharika said in a 10-minute speech on state television this afternoon. “Is this going to bring fuel in the country? Will looting solve the problem of [poor foreign exchange rates]? I ask the civil society and opposition leaders to come to the round table for discussions. Violence will only destroy the gains that we have managed to realize over the years.”
In his address to the nation, Mutharika said that his government would do anything to protect the lives of Malawians and their property as enshrined in the Constitution.
Police sounded a warning that they would deal harshly with rioters. A statement from the police said the acts were barbaric and unlawful.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Symon Vuwa Kaunda said civil society and opposition leaders must ask their followers to stop the looting. “They said they wanted a peaceful demonstration on the 20th of July. Why then have these demonstrations spilled to the 21st of July? Why attack and intimidate people who are not concerned with these demonstrations?”
For its part, the National Media Institute of Southern Africa (NAMISA) condemned police for beating and intimidating journalists. In Lilongwe, police invaded a Presbyterian church and attacked journalists, politicians, and civil society leaders who had sought refuge there. They were beaten with sticks and gun butts.