A performance audit report on handling and follow up of crime cases by Malawi Police Service (MPS) has exposed flaws in promotions in the law enforcement agency, with people getting promoted without following procedures.
The report, dated May 23 2019, was signed by Acting Auditor General Thomas Makiwa and addressed to the National Assembly through immediate-past minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha, who submitted it to the House for further scrutiny by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last month.
Observes Makiwa in the report: “On promotion procedures, the audit established that no service standing order and Government Law examinations were administered. Promotions were mainly based on exceptional circumstances rather than passing of the prescribed examinations.”
The audit, conducted in all MPS headquarters and regional offices, covering the period between 2009 to 2014, has since recommended that recruitment should be done following proper procedures.
During the period under review, there was no selection board where officers of junior ranks appeared before being promoted, according to Makiwa.
“Promotions for junior officers were based on the prerogative of the Inspector General with regard to promotion qualification report [MP47],” indicates the report.
For example, from the survey that was conducted on 386 officers, out of the 63 that were promoted to the post of sergeant, only one officer had sat and passed the service standing orders examination while none had sat and passed law examinations.
Similarly, out of the 39 officers that were promoted to the post of sub-inspector, only two officers took and passed the service standing orders as well as the law examinations, respectively.
“As a consequence, the purpose of ensuring that officers gain requisite skills for the rank is defeated,” reads the report in part.
Makiwa also noted that officers did not see the need to sit the examinations since promotions were still effected without considering the requirement.
Apart from the promotion flaws, the audit, which was done following media complaints, both locally and internationally, regarding long periods taken to investigate and conclude crime cases, further reveals a rise in robberies and break-in crimes in the country.
Makiwa noted that the statistics produced by MPS of reduced crime rate were not a true reflection of the situation on the ground as the crime rate was not reducing in the period under review.
The report also faulted police for detaining suspects beyond the 48-hour rule which stipulates that one should be charged within 48 hours and also has a right to bail within the same time.
“A random sample of 466 suspects revealed that 435 suspects were detained beyond the 48 hours. Some suspects were detained for a period of three to about 14 days,” reads the report in part.
Meanwhile, PAC chairperson Ken Kandodo acknowledged receipt of the report, saying it would form part of their agenda in the coming days.
He said: “We have not yet tackled it as last week, we were doing the audit report on government accounts, but we will surely discuss the report in the coming days.”
Makiwa has since recommended the need for MPS to ensure logistical arrangements at every formation to support the adherence to the 48-hour requirement and to ensure that there are proper training plans, among other things.