Chilima under siege again

Still smarting from the arrests of Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s two personal assistants on Monday, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) yesterday morning withdrew the Toyota Cruiser registration MP 2098 it provided to Chilima as part of his entitlement, The Nation has established.

MPS has also called 41 officers who are working in the Office of the Vice-President for a disciplinary hearing tomorrow accusing them of absconding work.

Chilima (L) engages some of his security officers

The 41 were previously transferred to other police formations but did not go after Chilima obtained a court order stopping the move.

Analysts have since warned government to stop witch-hunting, asking it to observe the rule of law.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera yesterday confirmed the withdrawal of the vehicle but refused to take further questions regarding the implications of the move in view of a court order which restrains the police from interfering with the Veep’s security detail, including seizure of vehicles.

He said the withdrawal of the vehicle is not in breach of any law.

Said Kadadzera: “The action taken by the police will not violate the entitlement of the Office of the Vice-President according to law.”

He also confirmed the call for disciplinary hearing of 41 police officers, but said it was sad the internal police memo found its way to the public.

“It’s true we have that communication of disciplinary hearing for the concerned officers. That is an internal communication to the said officers,” said Kadadzera, declining to comment further.

According to an inside source in the Office of the Vice-President, the seized vehicle’s driver was raided at Area 30 around 5AM yesterday by three senior police officers who demanded keys from him, saying the car would no longer go to the Vice-President’s office.

The vehicle has since been taken to National Police Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe.

Office of the Vice-President spokesperson Milward Tobias in an interview confirmed the withdrawal of the vehicle and also the disciplinary hearing call of the officers.

He said: “We haven’t been told any reasons of the withdrawing of the vehicle. We have only been told that the vehicle belongs to the police hence they took the keys from the driver who called the guard commander, and the commander told him just to surrender the keys and not argue.”

This is the latest withdrawal of motor security assets from the Veep, who quit the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Peter Mutharika in June last year. Chilima has since been elected UTM Party torchbearer in the May 21 Tripartite Elections at the party’s convention last December.

Tobias said the action by the police is strange as there is a court order restraining such actions.

“It’s sad that the reason for the hearing is [apparently] because the officers have been absconding from work, yet they have been coming to work at the Veep’s office. All the same, this is against the court order, so we will see,” he said.

The court order, dated  September 30 2018 served to Malawi Police Service in judicial review case number 49 between the Vice-President and the Inspector General of Police, Rodney Jose, states that until an inter partes hearing takes place, the security detail should continue with their job.

The order further gave a penal notice which said if any officer or employee fails to obey the order, they will be guilty of contempt of court and may be charged or sent to prison.

Meanwhile, Malawi Law Society (MLS) honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde has said if the September 30 2018 order was not discharged by any of the parties, then any action taken against it would be contravening that order and the Penal Notice in it.

She said: “Court orders are supposed to be complied with by all. If the officers did not move to the allocated stations as they were complying with the order, then any negative decision that would be made against them would be subject to review upon seeking legal redress from the court using the said court order and employment law.”

Kaukonde further said compliance with legal provisions and court orders is the foundation stone for peace and the rule of law.

“If clear disregard of the law takes root, we have to be worried as a nation,” she said.

Barely days after the Vice-President unpacked his political mission last July to challenge Mutharika in the May elections, government reviewed his security detail comprising Police Mobile Service officers, but the move was later halted by the court order.

Chilima was left with seven security guards to man his two official residences at Area 12 in Lilongwe and Mudi House in Blantyre, the office at Capital Hill and his motorcade after almost 46 were withdrawn.

Under the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act, the Vice-President, among other benefits, is entitled to one personal bodyguard, one head of security guard, six security guards, two chauffeurs, two cooks and personal assistants.

Human rights defender Gift Trapence has since warned police to avoid being used by politicians, saying the men in uniform need to serve the country and respect the rule of law.

He said: “The police should aim at operating within the law. They know the privileges of the VP, so why are they acting like that? This witch hunting must stop and they need to comply with the court order.”

After he ditched the DPP, Chilima was stripped as Minister Responsible for Disaster Management Affairs and in-charge of National Public Events.

The President also ordered that Chilima should no longer be co-chair of the Malabo Montpeller Forum, an international think tank to which he was appointed in September 2017.

Just two days ago, two of Chilima’s aides were arrested in Balaka on accusations that they were acting suspiciously at a Chiwanja cha Ayao function where the President was in attendance.

Still smarting from the arrests of Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s two personal assistants on Monday, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) yesterday morning withdrew the Toyota Cruiser registration MP 2098 it provided to Chilima as part of his entitlement, The Nation has established.

MPS has also called 41 officers who are working in the Office of the Vice-President for a disciplinary hearing tomorrow accusing them of absconding work.

The 41 were previously transferred to other police formations but did not go after Chilima obtained a court order stopping the move.

Analysts have since warned government to stop witch-hunting, asking it to observe the rule of law.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera yesterday confirmed the withdrawal of the vehicle but refused to take further questions regarding the implications of the move in view of a court order which restrains the police from interfering with the Veep’s security detail, including seizure of vehicles.

He said the withdrawal of the vehicle is not in breach of any law.

Said Kadadzera: “The action taken by the police will not violate the entitlement of the Office of the Vice-President according to law.”

He also confirmed the call for disciplinary hearing of 41 police officers, but said it was sad the internal police memo found its way to the public.

“It’s true we have that communication of disciplinary hearing for the concerned officers. That is an internal communication to the said officers,” said Kadadzera, declining to comment further.

According to an inside source in the Office of the Vice-President, the seized vehicle’s driver was raided at Area 30 around 5AM yesterday by three senior police officers who demanded keys from him, saying the car would no longer go to the Vice-President’s office.

The vehicle has since been taken to National Police Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe.

Office of the Vice-President spokesperson Milward Tobias in an interview confirmed the withdrawal of the vehicle and also the disciplinary hearing call of the officers.

He said: “We haven’t been told any reasons of the withdrawing of the vehicle. We have only been told that the vehicle belongs to the police hence they took the keys from the driver who called the guard commander, and the commander told him just to surrender the keys and not argue.”

This is the latest withdrawal of motor security assets from the Veep, who quit the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Peter Mutharika in June last year. Chilima has since been elected UTM Party torchbearer in the May 21 Tripartite Elections at the party’s convention last December.

Tobias said the action by the police is strange as there is a court order restraining such actions.

“It’s sad that the reason for the hearing is [apparently] because the officers have been absconding from work, yet they have been coming to work at the Veep’s office. All the same, this is against the court order, so we will see,” he said.

The court order, dated  September 30 2018 served to Malawi Police Service in judicial review case number 49 between the Vice-President and the Inspector General of Police, Rodney Jose, states that until an inter partes hearing takes place, the security detail should continue with their job.

The order further gave a penal notice which said if any officer or employee fails to obey the order, they will be guilty of contempt of court and may be charged or sent to prison.

Meanwhile, Malawi Law Society (MLS) honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde has said if the September 30 2018 order was not discharged by any of the parties, then any action taken against it would be contravening that order and the Penal Notice in it.

She said: “Court orders are supposed to be complied with by all. If the officers did not move to the allocated stations as they were complying with the order, then any negative decision that would be made against them would be subject to review upon seeking legal redress from the court using the said court order and employment law.”

Kaukonde further said compliance with legal provisions and court orders is the foundation stone for peace and the rule of law.

“If clear disregard of the law takes root, we have to be worried as a nation,” she said.

Barely days after the Vice-President unpacked his political mission last July to challenge Mutharika in the May elections, government reviewed his security detail comprising Police Mobile Service officers, but the move was later halted by the court order.

Chilima was left with seven security guards to man his two official residences at Area 12 in Lilongwe and Mudi House in Blantyre, the office at Capital Hill and his motorcade after almost 46 were withdrawn.

Under the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act, the Vice-President, among other benefits, is entitled to one personal bodyguard, one head of security guard, six security guards, two chauffeurs, two cooks and personal assistants.

Human rights defender Gift Trapence has since warned police to avoid being used by politicians, saying the men in uniform need to serve the country and respect the rule of law.

He said: “The police should aim at operating within the law. They know the privileges of the VP, so why are they acting like that? This witch hunting must stop and they need to comply with the court order.”

After he ditched the DPP, Chilima was stripped as Minister Responsible for Disaster Management Affairs and in-charge of National Public Events.

The President also ordered that Chilima should no longer be co-chair of the Malabo Montpeller Forum, an international think tank to which he was appointed in September 2017.

Just two days ago, two of Chilima’s aides were arrested in Balaka on accusations that they were acting suspiciously at a Chiwanja cha Ayao function where the President was in attendance.

Share This Post