Under fire Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia has broken her silence on her alleged order for police to arrest National Registration Bureau (NRB) officers in Mzuzu.
In an interview yesterday in the wake of a Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) call for President Peter Mutharika to “urgently deal with this minister who is tainting the image of Malawi Government”, Chiumia said she reported to police about a meeting of the NRB officers “as a good and responsible citizen after sensing danger” not in her capacity as a Cabinet minister.
In its statement signed by president Luther Mambala and secretary general Denis Kalekeni, MCTU has called for Mutharika’s action, saying the minister’s conduct was a threat to human and workers’ rights.
However, the minister accused MCTU of blowing the issue out of proportion, claiming the whole incident has been misrepresented.
Said Chiumia: “I am being asked to apologise. I am being asked to resign. I mean, for what? This issue is not as simple as they think and it will not end here. There are procedures being carried out, including going to court, and I will comment more when the whole issue is finalised.
“What is it that they want from me? Why are they dragging government into this? I did it in my personal capacity as a good citizen of Malawi not as a minister. They do not know the root cause of all this. I mean, there is no way you can order the police to arrest anybody. You just report.”
In the statement, MCTU also demanded that government through its spokesperson condemn the conduct displayed by the minister and exonerate government from such barbaric acts.
However, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, who is the official government spokesperson, yesterday declined to comment on the matter.
Police on September 17 2017 arrested 14 NRB officers in Mzuzu allegedly after Chiumia, accompanied by armed police officers, ambushed a meeting they were holding to demand arrears dating back to May 2017.
The minister, who went undercover to establish what was being discussed, is alleged to have been tipped off about the meeting held at Shoprite premises in the city.
However, it is alleged that some NRB officers got to know about her presence which saw her leaving the place and returning later with police officers who effected arrests.
The 14, who were charged with unlawful assembly and conspiracy to commit a felony, were granted police bail after spending a night in cell at Mzuzu Police Station.
MCTU has since threatened to take government to the Committee of Experts on Freedom of Association if it (government) fails to meet the demands. n