Longer wait for Inspector General confirmation
Parliament again failed to confirm acting Inspector General (IG) of Malawi Police Service, Duncan Mwapasa, following a heated debate in the august House in Lilongwe yesterday.
Opposition lawmakers argued that, according to the Constitution, Parliament cannot confirm another IG when Rodney Jose is holding the position.
But Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators argued that the Police Act allows the appointment of another IG when the incumbent is on leave pending retirement. Jose is expected to retire later this month.
Speaker of the House, Catherine Gotani-Hara, has since said she would consult lawyers on the matter and make a ruling today afternoon on the way forward.
Meanwhile, some legislators have argued that Parliament should concentrate on approving the 2019/2020 national budget as opposed to the appointment of Mwapasa, arguing that the confirmation can wait until the next sitting of Parliament.
Earlier, legislators voted on whether the House should go ahead with the confirmation.
Opposition legislators opposed the confirmation while DPP legislators wanted the confirmation done the same day.
The ‘yes’ had it and the motion was carried.
Out of the 191 lawmakers, 88 legislators voted for the House to proceed and confirm Mwapasa whereas 67 objected.
Over 30 legislators were absent in the House.
After lengthy deliberation, Homeland Security Minister, Nicholas Dausi, presented the history and education background of Mwapasa who is 49.
He said Mwapasa displayed high professionalism while serving as deputy IG responsible for operations.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator Eisenhower Mkaka, speaking on behalf of the party, opposed the appointment of Mwapasa.
He said among other things, Mwapasa, who holds a diploma in engineering from The Polytechnic, is not educated enough for the position as there are other people in the service with higher qualifications than him.
He also said considering that Mwapasa was mentioned in a report of the murder of The Polytechnic engineering student Robert Chasowa, there is no need to confirm him.
United Democratic Front (UDF) leader in the House, Lilian Patel, said there was need for the legislators to use merit on the matter.
She said UDF believes in professionalism and merit.
On his part, People’s Party leader in Parliament, John Chikalimba, said members of the House needed to vote according to their conscience considering the interests of Malawians at heart.
UTM representative in Parliament, Crispin Mphande, said it was unfortunate that Mwapasa was being considered for the position when under his tenure as acting IG, people have reportedly been beaten and tortured.
Rachel Zulu, vice chairperson of Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament, presented the committee’s assessment of Mwapasa.
Zulu said among other things, the committee noted that despite Mwapasa being qualified for the job, he has never served in one position for at least three years which makes one wonder if he ever accumulated adequate experience on the positions he previously held.
Zulu said the committee noted that during those tenure of Mwapasa, the police have not concluded investigating cases such as the death of suspects in custody and that of Chasowa, raising questions on his ability.
“Mr Mwapasa has the qualification to be considered for the appointment; however, the committee was mindful that having qualifications and experience alone is not enough. What is important above these is for the appointee to manage an independent police,” she told the House.
But Dausi said they have the numbers in Parliament to push for the confirmation of Mwapasa.
“It is part of politics. MCP does not want him but as for qualifications, he is highly qualified and he will be approved,” he said.
The issue of Mwapasa’s confirmation has sparked resistance, including from Human Rights Defenders Coalition which is accusing him of having a hand in the law enforcers’ alleged beating up of protesters who are pushing for Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah’s resignation.