Inspector General (IG) of Police Rodney Jose has accused political parties in the country of perpetrating violence by giving their youths too much power to the extent that some of them feel they are above the police.
Delivering a keynote address during a half-day meeting for Malawi Police Service (MPS) and representatives of political parties organised by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) in Lilongwe, the police chief urged the parties to act now to curb violence.
Said the IG: “The official campaign period has not yet been declared, but all parties are in the campaign mood. What is of concern is the issue of political violence by all political parties where the youth are at the centre of it.
“If they are doing this now, what will happen when the [election] results next year don’t go according to their expectations? There will be violence! So, there is a need for you, political parties, to tame your youths.”
Ironically, Jose’s sentiments come after our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, on August 25 this year documented that police was giving a blind eye to the escalating political violence ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections with no action on nine out of 10 cases of brutal acts Nation Publications Limited (NPL) has covered since 2014.
In a research conducted by NPL based on serious violent cases published in three of its brands—The Nation, Weekend Nation and Nation on Sunday—it was established that out of 15 incidents of violence that occurred between 2014 and 2018, police only acted swiftly on one.
The one incident acted upon involved opposition parties while those linked to supporters of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are largely ignored.
The acted upon incident involved a March 2016 Mzuzu fracas during a joint political rally conducted by Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) where some machete-wielding youths ambushed the then PP acting president Uladi Mussa who is now DPP vice-president for the Central Region.
During yesterday’s Lilongwe meeting, CMD raised 11 issues to police they want addressed before the 2019 elections. The issues include police officers wearing party colours, slow pace in dealing with political/electoral-related cases, venues for political rallies, interference and disruption of political rallies, transferring of police officers and dealing with party zealots.
In his address, Jose said sometimes the police fail to deal with party zealots because of the power they wield.
He said: “Our political masters have given the youth wings so much power that we [police] sometimes have no say. They [youths] don’t respect us.
“I can recall one incident when one officer, a commissioner [of Police level] for that matter, was attacked while in uniform and in broad daylight at a political party function in the North.”
Jose asked political parties to avoid hate speeches and concentrate on issue-based politics instead of character assassination which, he said, stirs violent reactions.
On the slow progress of some political violence cases whose investigations have taken so long without conclusion, MPS director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Stan Chaima, said the police will produce the results of the investigations after the meeting.
He said it takes police long to conclude cases because of lack of evidence and witnesses.
On her part, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres said the issues the IG raised should be followed ahead of the elections and beyond.
In his remarks, CMD chairperson Khwauli Msiska said as a grouping they will encourage their members to engage in issue-based campaign and refrain from violence.
DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey also said her party is peace-loving, but they only react when their president is attacked. She accused the opposition of stirring violence.
In August this year, two vehicles—one belonging to the United Transformation Movement (UTM) and another to a UTM member and Mzimba North legislator Agness Nyalonje—were torched by unknown assailants. UTM is led by the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima who broke ranks with DPP in June and declared he will challenge President Peter Mutharika in the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
A 2016 study on Electoral Conflict and Violence in Malawi: Patterns, Nature and Mitigation Measures conducted by governance specialist Henry Chingaipe found that in many cases perpetrators of violence are not arrested or charged while victims get little or no redress. n