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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Biased police has no room in democracy

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One of the things the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1994 has taught us is that it takes little fire for ruling party politicians to make a great deal of smoke.

Those who need evidence should not go farther than the many cases in which opposition politicians, civil society leaders with dissenting views and, just recently, National Registration Bureau staff in the Northern Region have been locked up in the blink of an eye on charges that fall off quicker than expected.

However, the same people who rush to pounce on others of different political cloth dilly dally when it comes to doing the needful whenever people suspected to be connected with the ruling elite cross the line of fairness.

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We have been forced to arrive at this conclusion after getting reports of latest developments in the issue centring on the attack on opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader, and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Lazarus Chakwera.

Over a year after unknown thugs attacked the MCP leader during a rally at Chibavi in Mzuzu, police seem to have made no progress on the issue. What is disturbing is that the case file for the incident has gone missing in the hands of the police.

The manner in which the case file has gone missing raises suspicions. More so because, although experience would have taught us to take police statements with a pinch of salt, we did not doubt police when they said last year that they had opened a case file on the issue. This was news we gratefully received; though it was not half as exciting as it would have been had the police followed their action with arrests.

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But, again, here we are: a nation duped by the very people who should inspire confidence in us. The Malawi Police Service, in case other officers do not know, is supposed to be a snug harbour where victimised citizens, as well as those visiting Malawi, should rest secure from the storms of injustice and unfair dealing, in whatever area of life.

Alas! Our police seem to be compromised, to the extent that it has become given that those connected with political parties in power get away with murder. Literally.

And it does not help matters when the Malawi Police Service does not want to comment on an issue of national importance of this nature. It must be borne in mind that the opposition are government-in-waiting, which means the country’s citizens are entitled to knowing what is happening to those in the opposition, just like we care about what happens to those from the ruling party.

We, therefore, agree with political commentators who have suggested that what has happened to the case files could erode citizens’ trust in the Malawi Police Service.

The bottom line is that the police must not take sides. Over a year and a half, any competent police should have gotten to the bottom of this. It is likely that the police are shielding culprits. This is a threat to democracy as we close in to the 2019 polls.

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