UTM Party torchbearer in the May 21 Tripartite Elections Saulos Chilima has described the promotion of over 7 000 police officers as political.
Chilima, who is also the country’s Vice-President, made the remarks on Saturday during a rally his party held at Kasungu Community ground.
He said President Peter Mutharika, who is also the Malawi Police Service Commander-In-Chief and governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) torchbearer, has never promoted such a huge contingent of law enforcers since he took office in 2014.
Said Chilima: “It is good to be promoted, but this one has come at a wrong time. Why were officers not promoted all this time? This is a campaign period. I do not know where government will get money to pay these officers when it is failing to pay chiefs their perks.”
While acknowledging that promotions are a good motivation for the law enforcers, Chilima who parted ways with his boss to lead UTM Party, feared that the promoted officers may not get their dues because government has no money.
But in response, State House and presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani argued that there is nothing wrong with the promotions and that the UTM Party leader is just envious.
He said: “I would want to ask him, does he mean he did not want police officers to be promoted? Last year, police officers were promoted and this year it is time for others.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with government promoting civil servants. This is coming from a point of envy. Civil servants, like any other employee, expect to be recognised when they do a good job.”
On timing, Mgeme said nothing is wrong, asking if it will be the UTM Party policy not to promote civil servants during an election year.
In his argument, Chilima said police officers deserved such promotions way back, not when people are approaching polling day.
In August 2018, 50 police officers, who graduated with various degrees from public universities gave government a 28-day ultimatum to promote them, but they were not promoted.
On the current promotion, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) cited reduced crime rate as a motivation for moving 3 959 constables to the rank of sergeant and 3 094 sergeants to the position of sub-inspector.
In an interview with our sister paper Nation on Sunday yesterday, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the promotions which he said came as a reward to the officers for reducing crime in the country.
Economists Association of Malawi president Chikumbutso Kalilombe also questioned the promotions in view of the timing and financial implication since it is believed they were not budgeted for in the 2018/19 fiscal year.
The Mutharika administration has also been under fire for recently promoting 20 210 primary and secondary school teachers when their cry for promotions yielded no tangible result these past five years.
The move was largely viewed as a campaign gimmick by the DPP ahead of the May 21 polls. n