About 22 activists want President Peter Mutharika to suspend the appointment of Rodney Jose as acting Inspector General (IG) of Police or face the wrath of people during April 28 protests.
The anger by the activists has also sparked calls from political parties with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) asking the President to appoint people of high moral standing in society.
The President on Monday appointed Jose as acting IG replacing Lextan Kachama who retired this month.
Citing the 2012 Robert Chasowa Commission of inquiry appointed by president Joyce Banda, human rights defenders criticised Mutharika describing the appointment as insensitive.
“The Enquiry Report findings are replete with very shocking details that perfectly implicate Rodney Jose as one key suspect on the brutal death of the University of Malawi is the Polytechnic student, Robert Chasowa. As such, we seriously want his appointment suspended immediately…” reads a statement from the rights groups released Tuesday.
The activists demanded in a statement signed by Timothy Mtambo of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation and Gift Trapence of Centre for the Development of People, among others, that the appointment should not reach Parliament for approval.
“Going by how parliamentarians betrayed Malawians in the manner they have handled the Electoral Reforms Bill and the recent K4 billion scam, we can no longer trust them,” reads the statement in part.
According to the statement, there are a lot of allegations that Jose is partisan. “Much as we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty by the competent court of the law, we hold that high government offices must be occupied by people of integrity and moral standing, especially at a time like this when vices such as impunity, corruption and abuse of power have been institutionalised,” the statement read.
They warned government that they intend to add the issue of Jose to the April 27 2018 nationalwide demonstrations.
MCP Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka, questioned the appointing authority on how Jose has been hired when an inquiry mentioned him in the Chasowa alleged murder.
“There is a report that implicates him [Jose] in the death of the The Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa. So this puts into question the appointing authority. Sometimes you wonder how such mistakes are made…,” he said.
Mkaka advised the President to exercise caution when making appointments in influential positions.
“How would the relations of Chasowa feel when they learn that someone who was implicated in the death of their member is in such an influential position? The president should be a little bit sensitive,” he said.
People’s Party Deputy Publicity Secretary, Ackson Kalaire called for the President to suspend the appointment.
But government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, blamed the human rights groups for rushing to the media before talking to relevant authorities.
“The Problem with the Civil Society Organisation is that they rush to the media but if this will be the way the country will be run then there will be no progress,” Dausi said.
He reminded rights groups that the President has vested powers to make appointments.
“If it is about suspending the appointments I don’t think we can suspend the constitution, because it is the constitution that gives the president the appointing powers,” he said in direct response to the demand from the activists.
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