Inspector General ‘dates’ Officers-in-charge over protests


Acting Inspector General (IG) of Police, Duncan Mwapasa, is reported to have held a meeting with Officers-in-charge (OC) from police stations across the country in Lilongwe on Saturday to allegedly strategise on the ongoing demonstrations.

Sources said Mwapasa called for the meeting in view of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC)- organised nationwide demonstrations scheduled to run from tomorrow to Friday, as calls for Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Jane Ansah’s resignation continue.

Some of the OCs in the Northern Region, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed attending the meeting.


“The meeting was timely and the agenda was sensitive, as you know the IG assumed office when the country is in a deadlock,” one of the OCs said.

Other sources said the police were exploring the possibility of enforcing shoot-to-kill policy to the demonstrations.

However, Mwapasa, who stepped in for Rodney Jose who is retiring, said, since his appointment, he had not assembled any meeting, adding that his officers are professionals and know what to do when the need arises.


“That is false [shoot-to-kill]; very false. Ignore all that. These are the very people who are claiming that the relationship between police and the public should be sour. But it is these very people who will need the police when faced with security threats,” Mwapasa said, adding that the police remains non-partisan.

Homeland Security Minister, Nicholas Dausi, Monday said there was no such order to the police.

National police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, denied that such a meeting took place, adding that the police headquarters holds meetings daily, wondering how our sources could single out a particular one.

On the alleged directive, Kadadzera said the police hold that, in the aftermath of the May 21 Tripartite Elections, Malawi has not had peaceful demonstrations but rather riots.

“What we are having are riots or acts of aggression and not demonstrations. We have seen people lying that they will conduct peaceful demonstrations but the contrary has been happening. There has been looting, injury and damage to property due to these unlawful assemblies. So, from now going forward, we would deal with situations as they come,” Kadadzera said.

Section 105 of Malawi Police Act (2010) provides that when people hold an assembly or demonstrations which have been prohibited by the District Commissioner or the High Court, the police IG or his delegated officer might order officers to use reasonable force on them upon proclamation of the president’s name.

According to the Act, the IG may also, in a loud voice using a language understood by the majority of the protesters, order the people to disperse within reasonable time.

If they disobey, the law says: “ …the police officer may order the members of police under his command to disperse the persons concerned and such members of police may for that purpose use such force as may be reasonably necessary and as shall be appropriate to the circumstances of the case.”

But Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, said they were not moved by the threats.

Mtambo said Mwapasa’s order was just an extension of what President Peter Mutharika said in Mangochi District last week when he ordered Malawi Defence Force and the police to deal with purpoted protesters at the country’s borders and airports.

He said HRDC would lobby Parliament and mobilise Malawians to ensure that Mwapasa is not confirmed as the next police boss.

“This is what we mean when we say we do not need partisan police leaders. All the violence they are talking about is because the police themselves have been provoking Malawians who are ready to demonstrate peacefully. So, if he likes let him kill Malawians like it was the case on July 20 2011. Otherwise, we are not moved until Ansah steps down,” Mtambo said.

Over the weekend, Dausi gazetted new regulations on demonstrations under the Preservation of Public Security Act, but Dean of law at Chancellor College, Sunduzwayo Madise, faulted their formulation.

He said laws do not have to targeting particular people or situations.

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