A governance expert and commentator has said the decision by President Lazarus Chakwera to fire the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) chief Andrew Namathanga and replaced him with the popular commander Vincent Nundwe who was dismissed in March by Chakwera’s predecessor, former president Peter Mutharika, has been done within the law and has strong moral and ethical background.
The firing of General Vincent Nundwe—barely eight months after he replaced General Griffin Spoon Phiri in June 2019 — was described as politically motivated by the governance expert Makhumbo Munthali.
According to President Chakwera’s live address Tuesday on State-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, said the sacking General Nundwe was not procedural.
“Although the former president had the ultimate responsibility for the Malawi Defense Force as the commander-in-chief and was vested with powers of appointment, it was improper to use such powers without cause. I have therefore redeployed Gen. Nundwe as commander of the Malawi Defense Force,” Chakwera said.
Mutharika fired Nundwe in March for allowing the military to protect demonstrators protesting the results of last year’s elections.
The Constitutional Court later annulled the elections and called for fresh polls, which were won by Chakwera in June of this year.
Chakwera said his decision to reinstate Nundwe is to restore justice to the operations of the Malawi Defense Force.
“In doing this, my purpose is to heal the injury and injustice of an unfair decision inflicted on our entire military as a professional institution,” he said.
Commenting on the decision, Munthali said President Chakwera is simply trying to send his message clear that those that faced injustice by virtue of exercising their Constitutional obligations must now see justice by being reinstated to their positions within the existing legal framework.
“And it’s clear that Nundwe was removed based on petty political reasons as I had earlier on explained. His reappointment is therefore good as it also provides the country an opportunity to debate on the issue of removal of commanders in office.
“Should the President be allowed to just fire a commander without clear justifications? What should be the limitations of Presidential powers in appointment and firing of commanders to avoid a President abusing such powers like in the manner Mutharika was fired?”
Munthali pointed out that while Nundwe’s reappointment is welcome from a legal and ethical perspective, it should not in anyway make Malawians pay a blind eye to the “remarkable role and great legacy” that General Namuthanga has left.
Said Munthali: “It is a well-known fact that president Peter Mutharika appointed General Namathanga with bad intentions – that is to serve his narrow selfish political and nepotistic agenda prior, during and post 2020 elections. And the timing of his appointment raised more suspicion and fear in the public that Mutharika would succeed in capturing the ‘peoples’ Malawi Army by using it as a tool to suppress the will of the people by clinging to power.
“However, Namathanga proved his critics wrong by continuing from where Nundwe had stopped by ensuring that the Malawi army remained professional and faithful to the people of Malawi and the Constitution.”
The governance commentator said the great role the Namathanga led Malawi army played prior to, during and after the 2020 Presidential elections cannot go without mention.
“While indeed General Vincent Nundwe will certainly be viewed as the best, people’s general so far in Malawi history, General Peter Namathanga will be remembered as a general who defied all odds by ensuring a smooth transition from DPP regime to Tonse government.
“Certainly, he may just a victim of circumstances mindful that his removal as a Commander has nothing to do with his performance but rather an act of correcting a previous wrong,” he stated.
Munthali, nonetheless, said General Namathanga should pat himself on the back for protecting the good legacy of Malawi Army at such a critical time of elections and transition
“In summary, Nundwe is not continuing from where he stopped as quoted in the media. Instead, he is continuing from where Namathanga stopped. At the end of the day, the good legacy of Malawi army continues,” said Munthali.
Meanwhile, President Chakwera, who is also Commander-In-Chief of Malawi Defence Force, has announced he will soon convene a meeting of the Defense Council to discuss the appointment of the new deputy commander of the army and other key positions
The current deputy commander is Davis Sesatino Mtachi who replaced Clement Namangale.
Former Mutharika also appointed Brigadier General Elias Mpaso as Army Commander (Land Forces), Brigadier General Ian Macleod Chirwa was appointed Air Force Commander, Colonel Harrison Kandula is Air Force Deputy Commander while Colonel Desmond Chawanda was appointed Deputy Army Commander (Land Forces).
During Nundwe’s time in office, MDF soldiers played a key role in ensuring peace and security during Human Rights Defenders Coalition-led demonstrations to force MEC chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for mismanaging the May 2019 presidential election results.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :