October 7 2021
There is a cancer that has slowly been eating through our social and legal fibres. This is where errant officials are transferred from where they committed crimes to other areas as punishment for their crimes.
Not so long ago, we heard of some police officers who played truant when they were supposed to be part of President Lazarus Chakwera’s security detail on the road.
The question of whether it is necessary to have police officers lining up the streets wherever the President goes will be answered another day. In fact, the issue that little has changed in this regard since Chakwera took over power is also a subject for another day. We cannot ask the question why he has not lived up to that promise of reducing the number of police officers along the way or on his convoy.
But, like I said, that is not the subject for discussion here. It may only be that some of the officers are there to carry out other duties as assigned to them from time to time. Such duties may include carrying of speakers, for instance, or checking on who is booing or throwing about misgivings about rising cost of living or lost campaign promises.
Here, one can’t stand to say that it is wrong for police officers to be in their large numbers wherever the President goes. But the question is, why use transfers as punishment?
If the officers compromised Chakwera`s security, is the transfer the most appropriate punishment? Maybe.
We have seen even top serving police officers being transferred to remote areas, especially when there is a change of regime. In this manner, the punishment comes basically because they are seen to have risen in rank-and-file because they were close to the politicians in power.
The coming of the Independent Police Commission brings hope that these transfer punishments will be a thing of the past, since the Malawi Human Rights Commission was for so long overwhelmed with complaints against errant officers.
But then, it is not only the police service that has been a victim of this evil eating into our socio-economic thread. Our tax collectors have also fallen ill to the disease.
It’s not so long ago when we heard that some errant officers at the tax collector were transferred to distant places because they were allegedly associated with a case touching on some high authority at the time.
Since the Anti-Corruption Bureau seems to be dragging its feet on questioning those suspected to be culpable to this matter, we can leave that as a subject for another day.
The question that arises, then is are the transfers made to pave the way for proper investigations? One can only doubt and question that because by now the ACB must have had a docket ready for the questioning of former president Peter Mutharika’s TPIN case involving the purchase of tonnes of cement.
One good friend talks of how he looked at a very bright future in the teaching profession. He saw himself rising from a fresh university graduate to a secondary school teacher down in a remote school.
His dream was to rise from the school, remote as it were, through the district or regional structure up to Capital Hill to develop education at national level.
But then, this friend says on that first day of school, fellow teachers who reported late for duties posed a question to him: Akutumizanikuno? Munalakwa chiyani?
One can deduce, then that all the teachers in the staffroom that day had committed mimeos crimes and were transferred to the remote school as punishment. Get this straight. In that school staffroom may have been teachers who had molested and defiled girls elsewhere in the course of their duties.
School and education ministry officials may have reasoned that the proper way to punish the errant teachers was to transfer them to a remote school? Nothing can be considered for the little girl who has to live with the trauma of facing sexual abuse from primary school.
Do we have to go into transfers in the religious sector? It is said in hushes that people are not arrested for swindling money from religious projects.
When those leading the flock appear to take the ‘follow what I say, not what I do’ to the letter are in the wrong, they are just transferred to another area.
This rot is just getting a bit too deeper.