President Peter Mutharika has taken several drastic measures including the recent shake-up up in the Police in what political analysts describe as a strategy aimed at putting certain officers in strategic positions as he strives to maintain power.
As he is about to name his new Cabinet – expected to be bloated from the lean team of 20 – appointing the country’s new defence force commander, defying the court and parliamentary recommendations to scrap the discredited Malawi Electoral Commission and withholding his assent to legislation to reform electoral laws before the next poll – there has also been transfers of senior cops.
A political scientist Mustafa Hussein of University of Malawi’s Chancellor College has said Mutharika is in a show of power, saying he is “flexing his muscles to show that he is still in charge and that he is President of the country.”
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera has said the transfers ordered by acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa which affects Officers-In-Charge; Station Officers and others in departments such as the confidential registry are a normal routine.
“Management has seen it important that these officers be transferred to other places because this will also help them in their process of expanding their career since they will be working with various officers,” he said.
But Professor Happy Kayuni, head of the political science and administration department at the University of Malawi, finds it strange coincidence that the changes are happening at the same time, particularly sinister that Mutharika fired the Malawi Defence Force commander General Vincent Nundwe and replaced him with former air force General Peter Namathanga.
He said that under Nudwe — who was appointed only nine months ago — the army had played a pivotal role in calming the protests that followed the elections last May when demonstrators hit the streets complaining that the election had been stolen.
Kayuni said the police had been unable to maintain peace on the streets and had sided with “hooligans” of the ruling party who attacked demonstrators. The army had stepped in and by behaving impartially had restored calm, he said.
He pointed out that the military had also protected the judges who had been presiding over the court cases which flowed from the elections.
“Mutharika is trying to reverse the democratic gains made in Malawi over the past few months,” he said, alluding also to Mutharika’s other decisions — to reject the decision that he should fire the electoral commission and also the proposed electoral law reforms.
“He’s taking a very dangerous course. People are already frustrated by the delays after the court ruling that elections must be held within 150 days. Now people are likely to be even more frustrated.”
Fresh presidential elections were called last month after a court ruled that the polls were marred by irregularities.
The nullification of the election followed complaints by opposition leaders Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Saulos Chilima of the UTM Party that the polls were rigged. MCP and UTM together with other five parties have forged a grand coalition.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :