Mtambo (L) touting Mwalwanda (R)-Photo by Jordan Simeon-Phiri

KARONGA-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Mtambo, and his counterpart, homeland security minister, Richard Chimwendo on Saturday, October 24, 2020 shocked many when they used siren vehicles on their motorcades, a privilege only accorded to the State President and his deputy.

The two were in Karonga Central Constituency to woo support for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Leonard Mwalwanda ahead of the November 10 by-election.

In Lupembe and Lughali areas where they held rallies with live band music performances by Simon and Kendall many constituents said upon hearing the sirens they ran to the M1 Road to wave to the President.

“We love our President [Lazarus Chakwera], and so when I heard the sirens I stopped whatever I was doing and ran to the road to wave him. I was disappointed when I heard it was Mtambo from my friends. I was fooled,” said Hastings Mwalwanda.

Some Malawians commenting on social media have ranted at the two ministers for “playing around” with privileges of the President and his vice.

“NO! This is not on. The President, Vice president, foreign envoys on special trips, ambulance, armoured vehicles carrying explosives, construction vehicles with overhangs and bank vehicles if speeding can use sirens. Not a minister. Where is the so-called servant leadership in this?” Wrote a police officer who did want to be identified.

Reacting to the development, Mzuzu based social commentator, Jackson Msiska told our sister paper Nyasa Times that an independent investigation must be done to ascertain the truth.

According to Msiska, “there is no legal basis to accord a cabinet minister or anyone  such a privilege apart from the President and the Vice. It is unfortunate they did that.

“The law provides that only the President and Vice President are entitled to a motorcade with Police escort and that the privileges are not extended to Cabinet ministers.

“Occasionally the police may extend police escort services to other officers and persons on ad hoc basis. For example if a Member of Parliament or minister is rushing to parliament and the road is congested, the police may escort such officer to parliament using their sirens. But not in a scenario like the one we are hearing about now,” said Msiska.

According to Msiska, the need for tightening security for the two ministers cannot be underestimated but said providing them with a police escort without offering the same to other ministers for the  same duties in the Karonga central by-election campaign is questionable.

“We have seen a number of ministers holding political rallies in the same area. Some are from UTM while others are from MCP. But they have not been enjoying this kind of privilege. So, how special are the two?” wondered Msiska.

He then urged the Tonse alliance government to tread with utmost care in their undertakings.

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