Parliament has confirmed the appointment of Rodney Jose as the country’s Inspector General (IG) of Police amid a dressing down and vote of no confidence from the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
Jose’s confirmation was made easy by the large number of legislators on the government side who included ‘friendly’ independents as well as surprising support from the People’s Party.
In a secret ballot, Parliament confirmed Jose with 96 yes votes against 55 ‘no’ votes and two abstentions.
Jose, who is due to retire in November 2019, has served in the Malawi Police Service for 35 years in various capacities, but MCP was not impressed by his track record when he was Commissioner (Southern Region) and the short period that he has been acting IG.
MCP laid the blame at Jose’s feet for police’s unprofessionalism and failure to bring to book perpetrators of political violence of which MCP has been a victim.
MCP spokesperson on legal matters Maxwell Thyolera said much as Jose was qualified for the job, he had not been cleared of his involvement in the murder of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa.
“The death of student Robert Chasowa, while Jose was Commissioner for Southern Region, as the commission of inquiry instituted by the former president Joyce Banda implicated him as one of the persons who masterminded it. Until today, he has not been cleared of that allegation,” he said.
MCP was particularly concerned with Jose’s handling of political violence, accusing him of letting DPP cadets go scot-free even in the face of evidence of their involvement.
“DPP cadets are more powerful than police officers and this is happening despite bilateral donors supporting reforms in the police. Instead of providing services, police are being used as a force,” he said.
Other incidents which MCP said happened under his watch were disruption of political rallies, attacks on MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, teargasing of a meeting between MCP vice-president Sidik Mia and vendors, aamong others.
“Should we go ahead to confirm such a person as IG? What assurances are there that with the coming of elections, he will ensure that no party is above the law?” Thyolera said.
In rallying for support for Jose, Minister of Home Affairs Cecilia Chazama described the appointee as a hard-working man who had served his country well and exhibited exemplary service.
“His CV provides details that he has worked diligently and efficiently. It is only fitting to offer Mr Jose a permanent appointment as Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service,” she said.
In April this year, civil society organisations (CSOs) held nationwide demonstrations and presented a petition to President Peter Mutharika on various issues, including the reversing of Jose’s appointment.
In an interview yesterday following the IGs confirmation, one of the CSOs leaders Gift Trapence said the IG confirmation is bad for democracy.
He said: “It shows that some of the MPs do not protect the rule of law. They are there to serve their own interests. As civil society, we will not stop our calls until justice is seen on the death of Chasowa.”
Trapence urged Malawians to “rise up” and defend democracy.