Retired Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander General Vincent Nundwe says his dismissal in 2019 was due to “enormous political pressure” to act against the law on managing post-election demonstrations.
In an exclusive interview yesterday after President Lazarus Chakwera on Tuesday replaced him with General Paul Valentino Phiri as MDF head, he said he stood his ground and has no regrets because he wanted a just society where people respected rules.
Nundwe, who enlisted in the MDF as an officer cadet in 1978, said: “When I was Commander, we had a lot of demonstrations in the country, but I had to make sure that the country is peaceful despite the challenges which were there, but balancing also between pressure from politicians and MDF apolitical stance.”
He said politicians would indicate that they did not want protests, but demonstrations are a constitutional right and the MDF would not stifle such rights, but embrace them.
On his reinstatement by Chakwera in 2020, he said the President was only following the law for him to be in office for four years, which he has concluded.
In an interview yesterday, Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Gift Trapence, whose institution led demonstrations that at times turned ugly, termed Nundwe as one of Malawi’s heroes who will be remembered in the history of democracy.
His counterpart, Charles Kajoloweka described Nundwe as a beacon of inspiration, adding, his fidelity to the Constitution and rule of law will go down in history to inspire not only the security sector but also civilian leadership in Malawi and beyond.
Political analyst Mavuto Bamusi, who was an adviser to former president Peter Mutharika who had Nundwe fired in 2019, said Nundwe gave the power to the people during the post-election demonstrations.
He said: “At one point, I personally received a petition from the angry demonstrators during the HRDC protest and MDF provided security on the road to Kamuzu Palace.
“However, General Nundwe failed to prevent looters from damaging property.”
Nundwe, who has served MDF for 45 years, enlisted on December 12 1978. He started training as basic officer cadet at Kamuzu Military College, now Malawi Armed Forces College in Salima, and in 1980 went to Kenya for further training.
During the war in Mozambique led the soldiers in Operation Bwenzani in 1993.