The civil society has slammed President Peter Mutharika’s appointment of Rodney Jose as acting Inspector General of Police, saying he has no moral mandate to occupy the senior post at the police service, saying he is a suspect in the murder of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa.
Jose was Police Commissioner for South during the murder of Chasowa which a judge-led death inquiry reported several irregularities by police, including possible cover-up attempts in the murder.
The inquiry revealed that Jose facilitated a meeting where the police attempted to recruit Chasowa, then a Polytechnic student and a critic of former president Bingu wa Mutharika alongside his college activist students, to foil planned civil society demonstrations but later fell out with the group.
President Mutharika appointed Jose as acting Inspector General (IG) of the Malawi Police Service following the retirement of Lexten Kachama, it was announced on Monday.
Jose was deputy IG responsible for operations before being elevated to head the police.
But CSOs have asked the appointing authority to suspend Jose’s appointment “even before it goes to parliament for approval.”
Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo said Jose has no moral mandate to occupy the senior post at the police service and called upon Mutharika to reverse the appointment.
Mtambo signatory to a statement issued by Human Rights Defenders Forum warned that failure to suspend the appointment if Jose will result into the issue being added on the agenda of the planned April 21 anti-government nationwide demonstrations.
Other CSOs that have endorsed the statement are Knowledge of the Laws of the Land (Knoll), Citizens Forum for the Defence of Good Governance, Civil Society Network Transparency and Accountability, Child Rights Information and Documentation, Outreach Scout Foundation (OSF) and Phunzirani Foundation.
Leading opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) deputy publicist Ezekiel Ching’oma condemned Jose’s appointment.
“The Chasowa family in particular and Malawians in general deserve justice. They deserve the truth. For us in MCP, the appointment vindicates our fears that the DPP-led government has no interest whatsoever in ensuring the Chasowa family finds justice. DPP-government should not make a mistake, Robert Chasowa was a final-year student vital to his family and they do not deserve this,” said Ching’oma.
Deputy spokesman of People’s Party (PP), Ackson Kalaile Banda also condemned Jose appointment, saying the development is a minus in the administration’s respect for human rights.
Mzuzu-based governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the timing of appointing Jose is wrong considering the fact that the investigations into Chasowa’s murder where the acting police IG is amongst those implicated.
“Memories are still afresh amongst Malawians of how the Police tried to hide the truth behind Chasowa’s murder by forging a suicide note insinuating that Chasowa had committed suicide but when later it was discovered that he was murdered,” he said.
Munthali said in the absence of conclusions into the quest for justice in Chasowa’s murder it is “a celebration of impunity and an insult” to the family of Chasowa and the public at large for anyone to appoint a person implicated in the saga as Police chief or even Acting Police chief.
“What message is the President relaying to the public in this appointment? Are Malawians particularly government critics safe? What about the timing of this appointment in relation to the CSOs and concerned citizens plans to hold nationwide demonstrations on 27 April 2018 in protest of K4 Billion scam and deteriorating state of governance in the country? What does this appointment say about the Police’s conclusion to investigations to Chasowa’s murder and July 20, 2011 demonstrations killings? And most importantly, what does this appointment say about the role of DPP government in relation to Chasowa murder and investigations on the same? No human rights defender and any patriotic Malawian can afford to just sit quietly and watch the celebration of impunity in this careless and insensitive appointment,” Munthali said.
According to findings of the Commission of Inquiry which was instituted by the late Mutharika and was headed by Supreme Court Judge Andrew Nyirenda, police officers who first responded to the Chasowa murder scene clearly suspected the deceased to be a murder victim. However, police changed positions later and referred to the death as suicide.
Several people, including the ruling DPP Member of Parliament Noel Masangwi, DPP’s youth militia Lewis Ngalande, were arrested in connection to the murder.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :