They are it again! Last week, the Malawi Police under the not so dynamic commander-ship of Professor Peter Mutharika piled more work on their shoulders. On top of the many investigations, that they are deliberately or incompetently failing to conclude, they added another huge one.
This time, the mostly dishonourable men in uniform say they will investigate themselves on their role in causing fire at a hostel at the Malawi Polytechnic.
Last week, Nyika hostel went into flames following clashes between the police and students.The students were protesting against insecurity at the campus.
As usual,the police used the ‘only’ crowd control method they were taught during their training, teargas.
Police fired teargas canisters inside the college campus and one of them landed on the hostel starting the fire. How the police thought that was a good idea is baffling.
No sane person can do that. The damage caused by this careless act is enormous. Many students lost their only valuables including academic work.
This is not the first time the police have thrown teargas wantonly to disperse protesters. During one of the recent demonstrations, the police fired teargas into Queen Elizabeth hospital. Yes inside a hospital! A child died and a pregnant woman was rushed to safety after fainting.
The incompetent and careless way of dealing with demonstrations has not spared the police themselves. Sometimes they have ended up being victims of their own acts.
Few weeks ago, the nation was shocked with the untimely and unnecessary brutal death of police officer Usumani Imedi in the line of duty. He was killed following confrontations between the police and Msundwe protesters.
The medieval style killing of Imedi should invoke a lot of soul searching for a country whose people are known to be friendly.
While such killing can not be justified in anyway, there is always a reason why people behave in a certain way. In this case, it was how the police in general conducted themselves prior to this incident.
It should be noted that Imedi’s death was not the first time a police officer was treated with violence. There are various accounts of scuffles between the police and civilians.
They include the death of a police officer in Thyolo , undressing of a female police officer in Lilongwe and many others.
The fact of the matter is that the police are failing to control crowds. This is because there is a breakdown in the relationship between the law enforcers and the public.
The relationship has been on a steady decline for a long time. But it has reached a regrettable levels under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Just have a look at who is the head of the Ministry of Homeland Security, which is responsible for the police department. It’s Nicholas Dausi, the overzealous DPP fanatic. Nicholas Dausi was trained by the notorious Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) which were theparamilitary wing of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
The Young Pioneers were a major instrument for former President Dr Banda’s one party statedictatorship and domestic terrorism. Dausi is experienced in clandestine and terrorism against citizens with dissenting views.
No wonder the police have become a terrorizing tool for the so called ruling party.The police has been acting unprofessionally. Mostly, they act on orders from DPP gurus. They know they can always get away with brutality and professional misconduct.
Violence during the protests has come from heavy-handedness of the police in handling demonstrations. Malawians are treated like enemy combatants for just having an appetite to demonstrate, a right which is duly enshrined in the constitution. Such actions have been very common and people regard the police as enemies.
The same has not been the case with the army which has been professionally providing security during demonstrations.
The police has been infiltrated by DPP cadets who only serve party interests. Overtime, Mutharika’s DPP has recruited its youth cadets as police officers.
The other police officers who are apolitical and professional lack incentives. The police lack proper training and equipment for crowd control resulting in poor crowd management which angers protesters.
The money that is supposed to be used to provide training and buy equipment is stolen through corruption that benefits police bosses and the ruling party.
Last year, the country learnt with shock that DPP and the so called Commander in Chief President Peter Mutharika benefited from a Malawi Police Service fraudulent procurement deal.
The party pocketed MK145 million in a procurement scandal masterminded by some senior police officers that defrauded the taxpayers of MK466 million in a ration racket of over MK2 billion. This is just one example of police corruption involving billions of money that could be used to provide incentives for police officers and improve police operations.
As long as DPP uses the police as it’s paramilitary wing and a tool for siphoning billions of Kwachas from the treasury, police officers will remain unprofessional and conduct themselves with the unfortunate impunity that is costing lives and huge damage to public and private property.