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Paramilitary slowly emerging in democratic Malawi: one-party totalitarian in the offing

MCP militias

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Malawi, a country that has been enjoying peace, stability and democracy in Africa since 1994, is likely to slip back  to one-party totalitarian following an establishment of a parallel party security agency which has a blessing from the country’s President, Lazarus Chakwera.

It started like a romour that the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) was using part of the K6.2 billion and K17 billion of Covid-19 money to train 162 party militias as its paramilitary wing with a view to bring back repressive regime.

According to the purported investigative report, the first cohort entered the police training school on 7 March 2021 and underwent six-week training on how to use firearms. The second cohort started training on 4 April.

“The report seeks to share with Malawians, whose tax is being wasted by the Chakwera-led government in training of MCP youths as militias (Special Police), for this is against the laws of Malawi and poses security threat to the neighboring countries, donor communities, the intelligence agency, Malawi Army, Malawi Police and the citizens at large,” read the report as quoted by Nyasa Times.

The report was initially brushed off by both information minister and state house spokesperson, but few days ago Malawians saw it themselves as the militias lined up along the streets of Capital City when the president was leaving his residence for official duties.

MPC militias maintaining their positions despite seeing Malawi Police vehicle

The development has shocked the country’s prominent lawyer Ralph Kasambara, who also appears to be pro-Tonse Alliance government if his facebook posts before and after fresh presidential election are anything to go by.

Kasambara wonders why Chakwera has resorted to source security services from party zealots when it is clear that the president is jealously guarded by both Malawi Police and Malawi Defence Force.

“Our State President and Vice President have state protection. In simple terms they are guarded by the Malawi Defence Force and Malawi Police Service.

“In view of the above do we really need parallel party security services? If so what purpose do they serve? And what are we saying about the efficiency and efficacy of our State institutions?” he argued.

“These structures are initiated by overzealous party zealots who want to make themselves relevant yet the service is not necessary,” another facebook user commented.

Malawi Congress Party came into government last year through a grand coalition of nine opposition party dubbed “Tonse Alliance” after defeating the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a historical fresh presidential election sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The party ruled Malawi from I964 to 1994 with an iron fist with the assistance of the then paramilitary wing Malawi Young Pioneer (MYP) under the leadership of late president Kamuzu Banda.

They originally were supposed to function as a national youth service program with a development agenda. However over time, they strayed away from this agenda and became an intricate network of espionage and terror.

The Young Pioneers were a major instrument for the operationalisation of Dr Banda’s one-party totalitarian dictatorship and domestic terrorism. Pioneers had arms, conducted espionage and intelligence operations, and were Banda’s most trusted bodyguards.

Both the Malawi Army and Police resented the Pioneers for usurping their roles as security agents.[2]

They were dismantled violently after the 1993 elections during Operation Bwezani “Give Back” or “Return” that was conducted by the then army commander general Manken Chigawa. In this case they were returning arms that the Pioneers had refused to give up.

Time will tell if President Chakwera wants to cling to power through the same style that the founder of the party used during his tenure.

Another tactic that the President is using is to suppress media through dubious appointments. He appointed the owner of private broadcaster ZBS Mr. Gospel Kazako as information minister and maverick journalist Brian Banda is at State House.

The Editor-in-Chief of Times Group, George Kasakula has also been handpicked to head Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

During the former ruling DPP, there were also party zealots dubbed “Cadets” who used to beat people perceived to be against their party in full view of the police. In fact, Police officers were small boys to those cadets.

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Maravi Post Reporter
Maravi Post Reporter
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