Activist Kajoloweka blast Minister Chiumia: ‘Don’t make Malawi a police state’

Mzuzu-based outspoken human righs and governance activist  Charles Kajoloweka has accused Malawi’s Minister of Home Affairs Grace Obama Chiumia for her role in ambushing and and ordering the arrest of 42  National Registration Bureau (NRB) members of staff who on Sunday over alleged conspiracy to commit a crime and felony and unlawful assembly.

Kajoloweka: Actions by Minister Chiumia are questionable

Out of the 42 members of staff, 14 spent a night in custody at Mzuzu Police Station.

Kajoloweka who had been fighting for the suspects’ release since Sunday described the arrest as senseless and baseless.

“Basically it is very clear that the arrest was senseless and baseless and it is an attack on the fundamental freedom of the assembly which is guaranteed in the constitution of this country.

“One would expect that police are supposed to act independently without taking political instructions from anyone. That’s why we find the act by the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security [Grace Chiumia] to be quite questionable,” Kajoloweka said.

But Chiumia told reporters on Sunday that her action was aimed at protecting government property and had no malice in notifying the police.

She said she was tipped by well-wishers of the conspiracy which had potential to frustrate the national registration exercise underway.

Meanwhile, on Monday no registration centre operated in the city as other NRB members of staff boycotted in solidarity with their arrested colleagues.

The 42 NRB members of the staff had assembled at a shopping mall car park to discuss issues pertaining to their work when they were arrested.

Malawi’s flagship newspaper Daily Times has  also condemned the Home Affairs Minister in an editorial comment, there is no justifiable reason in arresting NRB staff members who gathered peacefully to discuss matters affecting their work and livelihood.

“When Cabinet ministers, most of whom tow party lines, start barking instructions at the so-called reformed National Police Service to arrest innocent citizens, we should be very afraid because, next time, it will be people with dissenting views who shall be the victims,” the paper said.

The editorial comment said Minister Chiumia’s decision is “a smack in the face of police independence.”

Reads the comment: “ All along, we were made to believe that police do not act under duress, or on instructions from politicians, but, time and again, we are reminded that we still have elements that want to treat us as toys. This happens in cases where government officials, who have no knowledge about law enforcement, start barking orders.”

The paper said Malawi Police should be independent of political interference so that they can enjoy the trust of all Malawians.

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