President Peter Mutharika’s removal of Commander of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) General Vincent Nundwe from his post has triggered reaction from commentators with governance expert saying it is politically motivate in the wake of forthcoming fresh elections.
Muthatika on Tuesday replaced Nundwe with Major General Peter Andrew Lapken Namathanga without providing an explanation.
Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) said in a statement that Nundwe and his former deputy responsible for operations Lieutenant General Clement Namangale will be” assigned other duties in the Public Service”.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, social and governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the move to replace Nundwe is politically inspired.
“Definitely there may be technical reasons to justify such replacements but it doesn’t require one to be a political scientist to appreciate the fact that the decision is largely politically motivated,” Munthali said.
“The events that have characterised the country for the past 8 months where the Army won the hearts of many locally and internationally by acting professionally in their handling of demonstrations is the main reason why Nundwe has been fired,” he suggested.
The governance experts said Nundwe in this regard is being punished for failure to take political rally orders from the President on using force against protesters
“Looking at the current political context Mutharika may not be looking for a professional commander of Nundwe’s calibre but rather someone who would play a partisan card in favour of the ruling party especially when dealing with any potential demonstrations.
“Besides, the decision also signals insecurity on the part of the President where he would want to have someone he thinks can protect him in the context of his dwindling public trust levels,” said Munthali.
However, the governance expert said from experience and history the Malawi army has proved not to be an easy institution to be politically infiltrated even if those appointed as Commanders have been appointed with the objective of pursuing narrow political interests.
“Memories are still afresh of how General Henry Odillo despite being appointed by Bingu wa Mutharika rose to the occasion to defend the Constitution when it mattered most
“In short, the Army has over the years demonstrated to be above one individual by sticking to professionalism, and it would be naive for Mutharika to expect that by replacing Nundwe with a seemingly favourable General to him would automatically stiffle the professional operations of the Army. This might backfire as the Army has a legacy to protect,” he continued.
The Malawian army has played a crucial role during times of political and social turbulence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :