The High Court of Malawi has granted Vice-President Saulos Chilima an order stopping the Malawi Police Service (MPS) from tampering with his security detail.
The order, granted on Sunday afternoon, followed an application the Vice-President filed through the legal firm Ritz Attorneys, stopping the Inspector General (IG) of Police Rodney Jose from transferring 42 Police Mobile Service (PMS) officers from the Office of the Vice-President until an inter partes hearing on the matter is held.
“Pending an inter partes application for the interim reliefs of the final determination of the judicial review therein, whichever comes first, the respondent’s impunged decisions is hereby stayed and suspended and the respondent is hereby ordered to forthwith reinstate the security detail availed to the applicant and the residencies at his disposal,” reads the order granted by High Court judge John Chirwa.
In an interview yesterday, one of the lawyers representing the Vice-President, Mwayi Banda, confirmed the development, saying: “We obtained a stay order yesterday afternoon [Sunday]. The order requires immediate [or forthwith] compliance. Today is Monday, the first working day. So, let us see how it transpires.”
Banda said a date will be given in due course for commencement of the judicial review proceedings on the matter.
In a separate interview, Jose said his office was ready to comply with the court order as soon as it is served.
At the time of the interview, he said he was yet to be served with the order.
Under the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act, the Vice-President, among other benefits, is entitled to one personal bodyguard, one head of security guard, six security guards, two chauffeurs, two cooks and two personal assistants.
This is the second time that Chilima’s security detail has been reduced since July this year when Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Lloyd Muhara issued a directive, reducing the number of police officers guarding the VP’s official residences in Lilongwe and Blantyre and the office.
At that time, government transferred about 46 officers, leaving Chilima with seven to man his official residences at Area 12 in Lilongwe and Mudi House in Blantyre’s Mandala residential estate, office at Capital Hill and motorcade.
But Chilima, through his lawyers, obtained an order and sought judicial review on the decision.
However, in August both parties to the judicial review proceedings—government and the VP—said they had mutually agreed to settle the issue outside the courts, effectively withdrawing the court order.
But at the weekend, police transferred 42 officers, a move National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera on Sunday defended as normal within the police service.
He said the only remaining officers at the office of the VP and his residence at Mudi in Blantyre were there in accordance to his entitlements.
Chilima—whom President Peter Mutharika picked as running mate from the private sector in January 2014 where he served as Airtel Malawi managing director—had a visibly rosy relationship with the establishment until on June 6 this year when he broke ranks with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and declared he will challenge his boss in the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections through the newly formed United Transformation Movement (UTM).
The President also stripped Chilima of his Cabinet portfolio of Minister Responsible for Disaster Management Affairs and in-charge of National Public Events. n