Some 40 police officers who were summoned to appear before a Malawi Police Services disciplinary hearing on Wednesday have obtained an injunction stopping Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose from proceeding with disciplinary action against them.
The 40 officers are part of the security detail for Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
They have been manning Chilima's two official residences and accompany his motorcade but were transferred, from the Office of the VP to Police Mobile Service (PMS) 'A' Division, 21 to 'C' Division, one to Kanengo, two to Kawale, one to Lingadzi and two from Mudi Residence to PMS 'B' Division.
However, the officers did not report to their new police formations after Chilima --whom President Peter Mutharika picked as running mate from the private sector in January 2014 where he served as Airtel Malawi managing director--obtained an order from High Court stopping the Malawi Police Service (MPS) from tampering with his security detail.
The police officer through private practising lawyer Bright Theu have also obtained an order and sought a judicial review on the decision to discipline them.
Human rights activist and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence said the transfers are ill-timed and leave a lot to be desired.
He described the move as a reflection of anger with the twist in political allegiance of the VP who broke ranks with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on June 6 2018 and is set to challenge his boss, President Peter Mutharika, in the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections through the newly formed UTM party.
Trapence said it is in the public discourse that the transfers amount to political witch-hunt and that it is not imperative to compromise the security detail of the VP.
Chilima, 45, left the DPP, after accusing it of condoning corruption and nepotism.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera declined to comment, saying the matter is in court.
The order granted by Justice Healey Potani states that until an inter partes hearing takes place, the security detail should continue with their job at the Veep's office.
The court warns that if the Inspector General of Police, Rodney Jose, any officer or employee fails to obey the order, they will be guilty of contempt of court and may be charged or sent to prison.