Of police antics and EU gaffes

December 9 2020

It was in December 2014 when Lot Dzonzi bade farewell as Malawi Police Service (MPS) Inspector General (IG) to take up a diplomatic post at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Dzonzi, as IG, had his way with words and that night he agreed that the top most cop job is not easy.

Dzonzi said as an IG, one has to keep things in balance all the time ‘even where the balance is razor sharp’. The words came to mind when police officers led by deputy IG (Administration) John Nyondo held a press conference on why police was failing to act on errant officers who abused women at Nsundwe, Mbwatalika and Mpingu.

You could actually see that the act of ‘keeping things in balance’ was really hard for Nyondo as he tried hard to show that men in uniform who raped, sexually assaulted and molested women on that fateful October day will be brought to book. A tinge of relief came when Nyondo said, in the fray, such action would be within 14 days.

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) brought to light the police brutality and by now the police should have acted. Or, should the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) bring the men in uniform to book.

It is really amazing that police takes a bit of time to act when it is one of their wrong behaving suspiciously. Yet, they act swiftly on perceived enemies of State. Like what they did when they pinned journalists Golden Matonga, Steven Zimba and Francis Chamasowa for doing their job, taking pictures of the European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission (EOM). Funny enough, the crime the trio committed is encapsulated in an obscure behaving disorderly.

And, hey, talking of the EU EOM! It has been so long since we were treated to some diplomatic drama. It was real melodrama that the EOM announced it was going to publish its final report on the controversial May 21 elections. It came as a stinging surprise given that this came about 25 days before the Constitutional Court delivers its ruling on the elections case.

It was really strange that they chose such a time, when focus is on the ruling that is to come. While reckoning that the five judges would not be influenced in any way with the contents of their report, the timing was bad as it would bring confusion on the table.

Having spent eight months to present its report, another three weeks is not so long a period for the EOM to hold its peace and bring it on after the ruling.

The EOM is no ordinary grouping. It supports Malawi in so many areas, including the Judiciary. It would be a bundle of contradictions to see the EOM going all the way presenting a report that would be seen to be influencing the ruling in one way or the other.

The bloc has been influential in promoting the rule of law in the country. By publishing the report, I daresay, the EOM was going in to be in contempt of court.

For so long, we have seen how some politicians have used the EOM’s observation that the elections were ‘well-managed and competitive’. We have seen politicians slot in that EU EOM observed that the polls were free and fair.

Whether the EOM would maintain its stance, publishing the report could have led to unnecessary mayhem. We have been saved the huabaloo as the EOM has eaten the humble pie to back off.

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