The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander General Vincent Nundwe has maintained that stop on his agenda is to ensure that Malawi remains a peaceful country amid on-going electoral disputes, saying the soldiers from the barracks are deployed.
The Commander was speaking at a news conference held at Police Headquarters in Lilongwe jointly with Inspector General of Police, Rodney Jose, over the current political unrest facing the country due to electoral disputes—which potentially threatens national peace and security.
Nundwe, who was appointed from Lieutenant General to the rank of General to head MDF as soldiers popular choice to replace General Griffin Spoon Phiri who has now been appointed national security adviser, is on record to have said people have a right to demonstrate when aggrieved and no one should infringe on anyone’s right since Malawi is a democratic State.
At the news conference, the MDF commander donning a grey business suit, accompanied by military legal counsel Dan Kuwali, only quoted laws on MDF roles in supporting internal law and order.
“Our role is to protect the Constitution order,” he said.
Nundwe said the MDF is not a primary law enforcer, but in the interst of national security, it will not hesitate to join hands with the Malawi Police Service should they be overstretched.
He said the Constitution of Malawi allows the military to provide expertise to the police and civil authorities so that government should function.
“The military comes in because the police is overstretched and we intervene. It is constitutional,” he said.
Nundwe said since the way masses are taking to the streets in post-election demonstrations, with “sporadic maneuvers”, Police may not be able to contain the “massive numbers”.
He said: “When we come in, it is just to cover these [securuty] gaps, since the sat the demos are taking place now, the police have been overstretched.”
General Nundwe cited the famous 1993 ‘Operation Bwenzani’, when he was in the rank of Captain, the Army disarmed the paramilitary Malawi Young Pioneers over a threat to constitutional order.
Apparently, Mzuzu-based social and political commentator Emily Mkamanga recently wrote on her newspaper column in The Nation, that the country is facing political violence mostly because of party militia groups, some of whom appear to be free even to display their weapons, such as pangas, in public.
“Honestly speaking, introducing a panga-wielding group of youths in a political party is a dangerous thing to do. Such youths act as mercenaries, depending on who has the money to pay them. They can easily turn against their founders if someone offers them more. This country needs another ‘Operation Bwezani’ to make sure that no one else is armed, except registered security agents, the army and police.
“It is time government shows direction before Malawians get lost completely,” Mkamanga wrote.
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