Malawi Law Society (MLS) and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have accused President Peter Mutharika of flouting the Constitution and the Police Act in appointing Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs) of the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
Through an April 2 2018 letter signed by Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Lloyd Muhara, the President appointed Rodney Jose as acting IG with Duncan Mwapasa and John Nyondo as DIGs responsible for operations and administration, respectively.
The letter said Mwapasa and Nyondo’s appointments were to be processed through the Police Service Commission.
But yesterday, MLS president Alfred Majamanda and the HRDC said the President jumped the gun as, by interpretation of the relevant laws, positions below the IG in MPS—including DIGs—are supposed to be appointed by the Commission, not the President.
The law provides that all officers below the IG and above Inspector should be appointed by the Commission. These include DIGs, Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Senior Assistant Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners, Senior Superintendents, Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents.
Said Majamanda: “This shows that from the Deputy Inspector General to Inspector, the Commission is mandated to appoint office holders of these posts and no one else. It is also clear that only the Inspector General is supposed to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the National Assembly.
“The proper appointing authority for the Deputy Inspector General of Police is the Police Service Commission. Such powers are given both under the Constitution and the Police Act. If the current practice is that the President appoints the Deputy Inspector General, such practice is wrong and not supported by the law.”
He said the law made such provisions to ensure proper checks in the appointment process.
In Section 155, the Constitution provides that the power to confirm appointments and/or to remove such persons from office shall be vested in the Police Service Commission.
On its part, HRDC has written the President—a professor of international law—demanding an explanation and immediate suspension of the appointments within seven days or face legal action.
In the letter signed by HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence dated August 27 2018, the coalition argues that the law does not provide for the President to appoint DIGs.
Reads the letter in part: “By appointing the Deputy Inspectors General, you [the President] bypassed and blatantly violated the powers of the Police Service Commission, which is contrary to the Supreme law of the land. We are, therefore, deeply shocked by the move…”
Presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani was not available for comment yesterday.