BLANTYRE--Amid concerns that crime in Malawi was spiraling out of control, Pres Joyce Banda said on Tuesday crime must be “crushed” to ensure security.
“I’ve been reading disturbing reports of increasing crime in some parts of the country. This is not acceptable,” Pres Banda said. “The Malawi Police Service (MPS) and all other security agencies need to ensure that all forms of crime in this country must be crushed as it is an enemy of our development agenda."
Banda, who is Commander in Chief of MPS, made the remark when she received a donation of musical instruments for the police from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
Some sections of the media have reported that there are officers who aren’t happy with the change of leadership in the force and that they aren’t performing their duties well as a mark of protest.
Soon after she assumed power in April following the sudden death Pres Bingu wa Mutharika, Pres Banda sacked Peter Mukhito as chief of police. In the last two years, the behavior of police reminded Malawians of the thuggish police force that existed when Kamuzu Banda ruled the country with an iron fist for three decades.
Under Mukhito, police violently cracked down anti-government protests leaving 19 people dead in July last year. And when a university student activist was found dead in suspicious circumstances, Mukhito quickly said Robert Chasowa had committed suicide. But the public refused to buy his explanation and friends of Chasowa claimed that he had had dealings with Mukhito himself in aborting new anti-government protests. They claimed Chasowa was supposed to be paid for the job he had done but police reneged on their promise. An autopsy pointed to possible murder of Chasowa, who was a government critic.
Muthiko was also at the center of the fight for academic freedom at the University of Malawi. An informant had reported to police a lecturer, accusing him of inciting students to rise up against the government. Backed by Mutharika, Mukhito refused to apologise to the lecturers for breaching academic freedom, a move which forced the lecturers to walk out of class, arguing they didn’t feel safe to teach in an atmosphere of fear. The impasse lasted close to a year.
Banda, who has pledged not to interfere with academic institutions and ordered an inquiry into the death of Chasowa, on Tuesday said it’s the duty of the government to ensure peace and stability in the country.
----©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.