The Chronicle (Lilongwe)

29 June 2001

Malawi: Intelligence Bureau Intensifies Documents Transportation Security

The National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) has intensified security in the way sensitive documents are transported from the office Headquarters in Lilongwe to Blantyre.

A source close to the intelligence bureau office in Lilongwe told The Chronicle that the documents were in the past transported by Shire Buslines' coachline services. He said the use of the coach to transport the documents was discovered to have some loopholes. This, he said resulted in the bureau's sensitive documents landing into the wrong hands of unwanted parties some of the times. 'To lessen the loopholes the documents will now be transported using NIB cars,' said the source.

'Personnel from the security agency themselves will have to travel with the documents in their own cars all the way from Lilongwe to Blantyre,' he emphasised. The source indicated the move has been implemented already following a circular distributed to all NIB officers recently.

The tightening of security comes as the reports of the intelligence bureau persecuting opposition symphathisers are rife. It is reported that NIB officials have been deployed everywhere to monitor the clandestine activities of some of UDF members, especially those alleged to sympathise with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) pressure group.

When contacted for confirmation a NIB officer who answered the phone pushed the issue to the Director of the Bureau, Hastings Gama. When the call was transferred to the director's office the line was terminated immediately. NIB operates from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).

However, the Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Alfred Upindi asked a lot of questions instead of commenting on issues brought to him. 'Did you know what the special branch was doing at that time?' queried Upindi, referring to the one party regime of Dr. Kamuzu Banda. 'Let me tell you this, you have to find out what was happening with the special branch. Security matters are not discussed like chimanga (maize),' he declared.

NIB was introduced in 1997 after the de-linking of the former intelligence section, Special Intelligence Service (SIS). Unlike NIB, SIS was comprised of and was being run by the Malawi Police with officers who were well trained in national security services. NIB currently operates as a clandestine and secret organisation with no clear mandate. Its existence is often likened to the that of the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) which existed in the dictatorial regime as a para-military wing of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The main function of the MYP was to spy on party officials and on political opponents.

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