Malawi Army Leadership Changes Reflects Trust Deficits With President - Analyst

14 August 2019

A governance commentator has said President Peter Mutharika's continued many shake-ups on the top level of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) leadership may be indirectly giving room to speculation that the Head of State feels insecure in the context of post-elections events.

Malawi army officers

Mutharika as commander-in-chief of the Malawi armed forces in July appointed tri-services commanders at MDF and followed up in August a to remove Major General Alick Bentry Mhone as Army Commander of Landed Forces to Davis Mtachi as Landed Forces Commander and also promoted to the rank of Major General.

Major General Andrew Lapken Namathanga was appointed Airforce Commander with Brigadier General Ian MacLeod Chirwa as his deputy.

President Mutharika also appointed Maritime Forces Commander Brigadier General Francis Blessings Kakhuta Banda while Colonel Richard Chagonapanja was named as his deputy.

Governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times in an interview that President Mutharika might be appointing people he thinks are loyal to him within the Army ranks.

"However, while Mutharika has powers to make such changes, it is the frequency at which he is effecting such appointments which seems to suggest that perhaps not all is well between Mutharika and the existing Army leadership hence replacing them with those who seems personally loyal to him," observed Munthali.

He said the recent changes in Army leadership "may reflect trust deficits between the existing Army leadership and Mutharika. And these have serious security implications."

But MDF spokesperson, Paul Chiphwanya, has described the changes as normal.

"I wish to inform the public that, previously, it was indicated that the President appointed Major General Alick Mhone the Land Forces Commander and Brigadier General Mtachi his deputy. However, as of last week, there are some changes. Mtachi was promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed Land Forces Commander," Chiphwanya said on Times Radio.

Chiphwanya said the President has the powers to appoint people to such positions.

"Brigadier General Elias Mpasu was appointed the Deputy Land Forces Commander. It is the President who has the powers regarding these appointments and we just received communication on the same from the President," he said.

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