The ugly scenes from Wednesday’s fracas between Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operatives, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and the Malawi Police Service (MPS) underscore three things. First and foremost the MPS is unprofessional. HRDC and those who throng the group’s demonstrations are very much on their own during such protests. Police are only accountable to DPP cadres.
That the Police are unprofessional is well known. The Police do not know how to handle demonstrations. They fire tear gas canisters indiscriminately, at peaceful and unarmed citizens and in hospital premises. The Police are not protecting anybody when they hurl teargas at expectant mothers not in the streets but within the precincts of the hospitals. The Police are serving nobody when their tear gas chocks sick babies and children in hospital wards some on ventilators.
More often than not, the Police inflame more violence during peaceful protests than what they are supposed to quell. It is because of this unprofessionalism that many people long lost confidence in them. It is the reason Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers are forced to intervene and provide security to demonstrators and property during protests. MPS needs urgent reform from top to bottom. Admitted there are some police officers who know and love their job. But their good work is obscured by the bad eggs in the system. If the boss is a thief and is the master-minder of fraud in the company, he or she loses the moral high ground to fight the malfeasance in the whole organisation. Integrity, rectitude and nobility must first be solidly entrenched at the top of the establishment for them to be domiciled and nurtured at all the other levels of the organisation.
It is foolhardy for HRDC to count on the MPS for protection during protests. The police are highly partisan. In fact, they are more dangerous than party cadres because they are armed to the teeth but they don’t know how to use their armoury. The only political party members they see fit to protect are DPP officials and operatives. That is why on Wednesday this week, DPP operatives had no qualms flaunting their identities provoking HRDC demonstrators and pelting them with stones in full view of the Police. Ironically, the Police command little or no respect at all from the very people they are trying to please.
Many Police officers and their families live in the same locations as the people they are incarcerating to please the blue party. But DPP cadres will not protect them or will not be there for them when the oppressed say enough is enough. Time always comes when one has to be held to account for one’s actions.
The job of the Police is to enforce law and order in the country. But when the law enforcers look away when some bastards incite violence, the Police become extra baggage–not deserving to continue subsisting on the taxpayer’s money.
Police are only accountable to DPP cadres. Unless you are a DPP operative or cadet you cannot fault this statement. There is a long list of arson attacks by suspected DPP cadres on opposition vehicles, houses and other property. From Akweni being roughed up right at Parliament Building in 2018 in full view of the Police, to UTM Party officials’ vehicles being petrol bombed in Mangochi and other areas as well as MCP’s buildings being burnt down, Police have been prominent by their failure to stop the anarchy. They are double faced. Those who were injured in the mayhem during Wednesday’s protests are victims of mob justice which is not acceptable under the law. No one has powers to mete out punishment on a suspected wrong doer, except a court of law. But I can guarantee that the Police will not hold anyone to account for the injuries inflicted on the five people on Wednesday this week. But you and I know, the chapter on the lawlessness on Wednesday in Blantyre is closed. Bad luck for those who were injured in the fracas including HRDC’s Billy Mayaya.
HRDC were given the green light to conduct a peaceful citizens’ march in Blantyre long before Wednesday as the law requires. DPP operatives, on the other hand, who organised a counter protest and marched under Police escort did not have such permission. This is the anarchy and unprofessionalism we should, at all costs, not legitimize. But when Cabinet ministers such as Charles Mchacha have the haughtiness to defend their party’s illegal march on Wednesday, then you know Malawi has degenerated into an irredeemable level of misrule.