President Peter Mutharika has changed the leadership of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), firing commander General Ignancio Maulana and replacing him with his former deputy Griffin Supuni-Phiri.
Mutharika appointed Maulana and Supuni-Phiri to the ranks of commander and deputy commander respectively in June 2014, barely a month after he assumed the presidency after his victory in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Maulana, like his predecessor Henry Odillo who remains on the government payroll until his retirement in 2019, is set to head the security section of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) until he attains the mandatory retirement age of 60 next year.
MDF spokesperson Colonel Paul Chiphwanya confirmed yesterday that Major General Supuni-Phiri has been elevated to the post of General on his appointment as new army commander.728
Supuni-Phiri, who for a long time served as Malawi’s military attache at the Malawi Mission at the United Nations and as aide de camp to then president Bakili Muluzi, will be deputised by Lieutenant General Clement Namangale (administration) and Lieutenant General Vincent Nundwe (operations).
Said Chiphwanya: “It has pleased the President to give us a new General, Griffin Supuni-Phiri to be Army Commander of the Malawi Defence Force and Lt General Clement Namangale who will be deputy defence force commander.”
Following the development, Maulana is expected to hand over the Sword of Command to his successor at Kamuzu Barracks parade square in Lilongwe at a date to be announced later, according to Chiphwanya.
However, Chiphwanya could not confirm the next move for Maulana who, before his appointment as general, rose to the position of Lieutenant General.
But Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa told Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) yesterday that Maulana would be deployed to NFRA to be in charge of security “which needed a person of seniority and experience due to the large volumes of maize which are coming to the silos” as the country prepares for food shortages.
Since 2011, there have been frequent changes in Army command after the then president the late Bingu wa Mutharika appointed Odillo whom President Peter Mutharika sacked in June 2014.
Before 2011, the Army commander was Marko Chiziko who served for close to eight years.
When Joyce Banda became President in April 2012 in line with constitutional order following Bingu’s death, she maintained Odillo for his supposed heroic feats when he stood with her after Bingu’s death.
Brigadier General Misheck Colyns Chirwa (retired), coordinator of the Centre for Security Studies at Mzuzu University (Mzuni), yesterday refused to comment on implications of such changes, citing conflict of interest as he also trains MDF staff. n