NGO, parties fault Bingu on Kutsaira

HRCC has faulted the Malawi President for appointing politician Bintony Kutsaira as head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), arguing the position requires a person with security background.

But Malawi Government has said the requirement is not necessary.

The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), in a statement issued on Tuesday, says it is unfortunate that a politician has been appointed to such a sensitive position.

Reads the HRCC statement signed by acting national coordinator the Reverend MacDonald Sembereka: “Mr. Kutsaira is a politician and the current position he has been appointed to is meant to be a national position for persons who will act above party politics.

“Appointing a pure party politician alienates issues of national intelligence into partisan agenda. With due respect, we would appeal to the appointing authority to rise above party politics and start looking at these positions from a professional point of view.

“We have nothing personal about the appointee, but we are concerned about issues of national importance, including that of national intelligence which adds credibility and value to the way the country is governed. We call upon the State President to reverse the appointment forthwith to assure the nation that Malawi will maintain its integrity without compromising it with partisan politics.”

Living up to his self-proclaimed character as an “unpredictable” person, President Bingu wa Mutharika on Friday departed from the norm of appointing officers with security background to the position and brought in the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor for the Centre and party secretary general (SG) Kutsaira.

Previous office bearers of the position in recent years include Chitsulo Gama, who was trained on security in China and headed the agency when it was known as the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB). When the authorities changed NIB to NIS, Brigadier General Reuben Ngwenya, now at the Malawi Embassy in Japan, headed the unit.

Ngwenya was replaced by Charles Kapalamula, a seasoned intelligence officer who served in former president Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s Security Intelligence Service (SIS).

The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), in a statement signed by Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka dated January 13 2012, announced the appointment of Kutsaira, who was serving as presidential adviser on youth development and welfare after being removed from the SG’s office.

Sources familiar with NIS operations on Tuesday said it could have been proper if Kutsaira were appointed as deputy to someone with security background.

Said the insider: “There are three departments in NIS: political affairs, foreign affairs and internal security. It would have made sense if Mr. Kutsaira was appointed director of political affairs with his political background. It would be really difficult for a deputy to advise him properly on security matters, him being the boss.”

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson Nancy Tembo said it is an anomaly to appoint a politician with no security background to head the unit, but referred The Nation to MCP president John Tembo for a competent response. He was not available for comment.

UDF spokesperson Mahmudu Lalli said the President has erred to appoint someone with no security background to head NIS. He said the unit has been politicised.

Msaka, who signed the statement announcing the appointment, could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered on several attempts.

But presidential spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba defended Kutsaira’s appointment, arguing there is no constitutional requirement that people heading the intelligence unit should have security background.

He said there are people in many countries that have headed intelligence units without any security background.

Ntaba claimed it could be possible that the director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has never been in the police or the army.

But Internet research established that the director of CIA must have the following key competencies and preferred qualifications: experience in running large military or civilian enterprises, strong management skills, comprehensive grasp of international affairs and knowledge of the intelligence community and intelligence gathering.

FAST FACTS

 

  • Previous holders of the post had professional police or military background.
  • These include Chitsulo Gama, Brigadier General Reuben Ngwenya and Charles Kapalamula.
  • Kutsaira was DPP regional governor for the Centre and later party secretary general.

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