9 January 2019

Malawi: Chilima 'Siren' Vehicle Seized, 41 Security Officers Summoned - Malawi Police Risk Contempt of Court

Photo: Nyasa Times
The good old days: President Peter Mutharika and Vice President Saulos Chilima (file photo).

Malawi Police Services have withdrawn one of the security vehicles belonging to State Vice-President and UTM leader Saulos Chilima's fleet, as part of his entitlement and summed 41 officers who are working in the Office of the Vice-President for a disciplinary hearing.

National Police spokesman James Kadadzera confirmed the withdraw of Toyota Cruiser Registration Number MP2098.

This is a vehicle that contains a siren and flashing lights that helps to clear the road or notify people that the country's second-in-command is passing or about to pass when travelling on the roads of Malawi.

The seized vehicle's driver was raided at Area 30 Lilongwe in the morning by three senior police officers who demanded keys from him and took the vehicle to National Police Headquarters.

The police action is against a High Court order Chilima obtained restraining government or police tampering with his security detail which is still in force.

The court order Chilima obtained September 30 2018 served to Malawi Police Service in judicial review case number 49 between the Vice-president and the Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose, states that until an inter partes hearing takes place, the security detail should continue with their job.

The order further gave a penal notice which said if any officer or employee fails to obey the court order, they will be guilty if contempt of court and may be charged or sent to prison.

Malawi Law Society honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde said court orders are supposed to be complied with by all, saying that is the foundation stone for peace and rule of law.

The Police have been told to always be law-abiding and "should not become political pawns of the establishment".

Meanwhile, some 41 police officers assigned to the Vice-president's office face disciplinary hearing today.

Police are accusing the 41 officer of absconding work after they did not report to their newly transferred police formation as Chilima obtained a court order.

"We believe the police officers summoned by their bosses today should not be brow-beaten into believing that their respect for the injunction dictates was a crime. Far from it; they were being law-abiding and professional by serving the Vice Presidency, without necessarily being Chilima's political supporters," reads an editorial comment by Malawi's influential leading daily newspaper, The Nation.

The development comes few days after police arrested two of Chilima's aid accusing them of acting suspiciously at the launch of Chiwanja Cha Yawo Cultural Festival where President Peter Mutharika was guest of honour.

Under the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act, the Vice-President, among other benefits, is entitled to one personal bodyguard, one head of security guard, six security guards, two chauffeurs, two cooks and personal assistants.

The Vice-President ditched the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and is now the torchbearer of the newly formed UTM party, for the May 21 Tripartite elections.

Since Chilima announced on June 6 this year that he was leaving DPP, he has been stripped of the Cabinet portfolio of Minister responsible for Disaster Management Affairs and National Public Events.

The President on July 8 also ordered that Chilima should no longer be co-chair of the Malabo Montpeller Forum, an international think tank to which he was appointed in September 2017.

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