Political and legal minds have described as “a waste of public resources” the allocation of a motorcade with a police escort vehicle and enhanced security to President Peter Mutharika’s running mate Atupele Muluzi.
During his whistle-stop rallies in Eastern Region districts of Zomba, Machinga, Balaka and Mangochi on Saturday, Atupele—who is United Democratic Front (UDF) president and minister in Mutharika’s Cabinet—was seen using a motorcade, including a police lead vehicle (sweeper) with a siren and amber lights.
This development came barely two days after Mutharika, who is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) torchbearer in the July 2 presidential election rerun, named Atupele as his running mate. The two parties are in an electoral alliance.
In a written response yesterday, Garton Kamchedzera, a professor of law at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said there is no legal basis to accord a Cabinet minister or presidential running mate such a privilege.
He said: “These are the sort of privileges and benefits accorded to the President and Vice-President under the Presidents [Salaries and Benefits] Act. If it has to be done, I cannot find any law that permits the use of resources. This sort of abuse of public resources and opportunity is an indication of a creeping self-centred dictatorship.
“This is because the President is requiring or allowing privilege and advantage for his running mate in disregard of the Constitution and the law in general.”
In a separate interview, politician-cum-commentator Humphrey Mvula said the development can be attributed to a political attempt to raise the profile of Atupele, son to the country’s former president Bakili Muluzi.
He said: “However, on a broader scheme of things, this is a serious abuse of power and an abuse of public resources by the President. His competitors will use it against him and some CSOs may consider taking the matter to court.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a retired senior police officer said while a motorcade can be assigned to anyone, priority is given to the President, Vice-President and other important visiting dignitaries, including heads of State.
“The lead vehicle acts as a warning to people ahead that anything may happen,” said the retired senior police officer.
Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani said the arrangement does not mean anything significant.
He referred the matter to National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera who could, however, not be reached on his phone.
When then Ntcheu North East legislator Everton Chimulirenji, now serving as Minister of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events, was unveiled as Mutharika’s running mate in the disputed May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, he was also accorded beefed up security and a motorcade.