The Malawi Police Service (MPS) says 2019 has been a challenging year in the area of public order management, especially in the aftermath of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Since announcement of the presidential election results, the country has witnessed demonstrations that at some point turned violent.
But delivering a message on behalf of acting Inspector General (IG) Duncan Mwapasa on Friday, during an end-of-year party for Southern Region Police, commissioner for the region Sladge Yousuf, said it is worrisome that there has been mistrust between police and the public in the aftermath of the elections, leading to a challenging environment in public order management.
“The year started as a normal one with no major incident of public disorder. However, the situation took a twist after two presidential contestants challenged results of the May 21 elections,” said Yousuf.
He added: “Our police officers became main targets not because they had done something wrong, but because they are regarded as a symbol of State authority.”
While pointing out that police never shot at anyone despite such incidences happening, Yousuf said the saddest part of it all was the death of Superintendent Usumani Imedi, who was stoned to death at Msundwe in Lilongwe in the course of duty.
In addition, Yousuf said the destruction of MPS units, including road blocks is also a major concern.
Some of the police units that got burnt during the demonstrations are Njewa, Msundwe, Chitedze, Area 36 and Area 49, all in Lilongwe; and Nkhamenya in Kasungu, Kaphatengo Roadblock in Salima and Golomoti Road block in Dedza.
Yousuf thus said despite perceptions some members of the community have against police and misunderstandings, the solution does not lie in burning the police units as police formations, especially units, are critical in service delivery.
He also gave an assurance that police is ready to execute its duties professionally once the Constitutional court delivers its judgment in the elections case.
“I need to assure the nation that the Malawi Police Service is ready to maintain law and order during this period before judgment and afterwards.
“We have put in place strategies to ensure peace prevails during this period. Malawians need not to panic because we are well prepared to carry out our Constitutional mandate in accordance with the law,” he said.
The assurance by Yousuf comes days after Malawi Defence Force (MDF) commander, General Vincent Nundwe, said the force is ready to make sure there is peace in the aftermath of the pending ruling.
“As MDF we always prepare for the worst case scenario regardless of whichever side carries the day. On that day, we will make sure that the situation remains calm. “So let me assure the general public that the situation remains calm,” said Nundwe.
In the aftermath of the May 21 Tripartite Elections, there has been political tension in the country with a wave of demonstrations happening that in most cases turned violent.
Two presidential contestants—UTM’s Saulos Chilima, who is the immediate past vice-president; and Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarus Chakwera—are challenging the presidential election results, alleging that the elections had various anomalies; hence, seeking nullification of the results.
The High Court sitting as a constitutional court in Lilongwe is currently analysing final submissions from all concerned parties before ruling on the case.