Government has increased the security detail for United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi to the level similar to that of the country’s ice-president days after President Peter Mutharika named him as his running mate ahead of the July 2 election.
Speaking during a political rally in Mzuzu, UTM Secretary General Patricia Kaliati questioned the government for giving a siren vehicle to Muluzi saying it was an attempt to anger Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Muluzi, as a Cabinet minister, is entitled to a ministerial vehicle and one police officer but on Saturday, he was spotted on a long motorcade with fortified security which included a police sweeper vehicle on a whistle-stop tour from Blantyre to Mangochi.
Sunday, Muluzi was also on a whistle-stop tour from Mangochi to Lilongwe.
Law lecturer at Chancellor College, Sunduzwayo Madise, said as running mate, Muluzi was not entitled to the privileges that are reserved for the President and his vice.
“If the President wanted him to enjoy those privileges as stipulated in the Presidential Salaries and Privileges Act, he could have just appointed him as second vice-president. Sirens can be used on temporary basis not permanent as in this case. This is abuse of state resources,” Madise said.
Government spokesperson, Mark Botomani, said the police were in a better position to respond about the security because the vehicles mentioned belong to them.
National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, defended the fortified security given to Muluzi during the whistle stop tours.
Kadadzera said it is the mandate of the law enforcers to maintain safety and security in the country.
“The leading traffic vehicle in Honourable Atupele Muluzi entourage is for the benefit of all Malawians as the police officers conduct traffic in busy places to avoid road accidents. They also make sure that criminal acts like theft and malicious damage are not finding a comfort zone.
“Likewise at all major political rallies, whistle-stop tours or demonstrations, we deploy officers in strategic places to conduct traffic, arrest criminal activities and reduce the fear of crime among ordinary people,” Kadadzera said.
In February last year, the government also accorded former vice-president Everton Chimulirenji vice-president treatment after Mutharika named him as his running mate for the nullified May 21 presidential election.