Malawi Police ropes in media to curb maize smuggling

Police in the northern region have made an impassioned plea to the media to assist in disseminating information against maize smuggling to Tanzania and Zambia as one way of curbing the practice.

“It’s true that our presence along the borders is not adequate. We have 11000 Police Officer against 15 million Malawians.

“That is why we encourage community policing so that people should own their security and in some cases effect citizen arrests,” Northern Police Commissioner Wilson Matinga said.

Matinga said this during an ‘interactive meeting’ with journalists drawn from various media houses held at the Northern Region Police Headquarters senior officers’ mess on Thursday.

The region’s senior Cops and heads of departments also attended the meeting.

Maluwa: Review

Maluwa: Review

Malawi has over the years witnessed rampant smuggling of its staple food due to unfavorable prices on the local market.

The Grain Traders and Processors Association (GTPA) reported that 140,000 metric tonnes of maize left Malawi through informal exports since January 2013.

Malawi’s maize per metric at US$151 is the cheapest compared to US$250 in other countries, according to the GTPA.

But Nyasa Times established from impeccable sources that some ruling party politicians were thwarting Police’s efforts to curb maize smuggling by frequently ordering the release of suspected maize smugglers.

Police were mum on the allegations.

The Cops also openly showed displeasure with penalties Malawi courts mete to smugglers, saying they were not deterrent.

“In Karonga we arrested some people trying to smuggle 2900 bags of maize each weighing 50 Kilogrammes. One was fined MK20,000 or in default spend six months in jail.

“The other got a MK50,000 fine or in default the spend the same jail term. They all paid and also had their maize back with an order to sell it in Malawi. Remember these people have money,” Matinga said.

Matinga said the media should also play a role of giving tips to police.

But the media resisted the tipping part of the plea as they feared to be an extension of the Malawi Police Service thereby compromising the journalism ethics.

Nyika Media Club chairperson Chimbizga Msimuko said the media was ready to help in the fight and called on police to establish a good relationship with all media houses.

Police quashed allegations that there is rampant corruption among its rank and file due to poor conditions of service and remuneration, saying “its individual Police officers with an attitude and mind set problem that were corrupt and not the whole establishment”

The 2013 global watchdog Transparency International Corruption Perception Indexreport ranks the Malawi’s Police, for the second year running, as the most corrupt of the 12 institutions surveyed in the country.

And based on findings the Police will this year launch the Anti-Corruption Policy and Strategy this year.

Matinga said it is sad that the Malawi government was spending a lot of money on the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme but blamed greedy and unpatriotic Malawi for aiding the smugglers.

“When the commodity is scare, the smugglers will then bring the maize back and then sell it at exorbitant prizes. You may wish to know that maize as a staple crop is also a major determinant of inflation because high market prices trigger higher inflation,” he claimed.

Northern Region Operations Officer Isaac Maluwa, who is also Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, called for a wholesome review of the Malawi Penal Code saying it is deficient in some areas.

“As Police we usually spend a lot of resources in apprehending smugglers but the Court fines them MK20,000. We are always blamed for not doing our part but its lack of patriotism and understanding of how the economy works that Malawians have,” Maluwa said.

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