Security lapse forces citizens to call off vigils

By Iommie Chiwalo

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) in
collaboration with the Concerned Citizens have suspended the vigils on security grounds.

The grouping has been holding vigils at the main entrance to Capital Hill in the City of Lilongwe, seeking response from the Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda regarding the mysterious loss of MK750 million that was meant for the purchase of fertilizer for the vulnerable Malawian farmers under the 2022/2023 Affordable Input Programme(AIP).

Briefing the press in Lilongwe about the suspension, CDEDI Executive Director, Sylvester Namiwa, says the conduct of the police leaves a lot to be desired.

Namiwa says the prevailing events from day one of vigils necessitated the calling off of the peaceful protests saying it is sad that the law enforcers seem to be siding with thugs that are willing to disrupt the constitutionally mandated protesters.

He gave an example of an incident that happened on the very first day of the vigils on Monday, May 22, 2023, whereby the Malawi Police Service (MPS) arrested 23 people that plotted to attack the protesters and disrupt the vigils, only to hear that were released unconditionally.

“The same police acted very strange on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 around 11am, when they withdrew their manpower from the vigil premises,” says Namiwa.

He added that the withdrawal of security, coupled with other strange events that prompted CDEDI leadership to raise an alarm.

“Considering that by any measure, security issues are urgent and serious matters in nature, our reaction included an immediate telephone call to the Lilongwe District Commissioner Dr. Lawford Palani, bringing to his attention the state of security at the vigil premises but to our dismay, the situation remained the same on Thursday May 25, 2023 a development that forced CDEDI and the Concerned Citizens to lodge a formal complaint with the DC, and the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service,” he said.

According to Namiwa, silence from the authorities warrants suspension of vigils until the Inspector General (IG) Merlyn Yolamu explains the sudden withdrawal of manpower amid security threats.

He says it is worrisome that despite all the efforts, there was no response from the DC by close of business on Thursday, a development that has left CDEDI and the Concerned Citizens with no choice but to suspend the vigils on security grounds.

On the way forward, Namiwa has assured Malawians that CDEDI will do all it can in order to force the Attorney General to show the nation proof of payment as evidence that the MK750 million was recovered and the culprits arrested or else he should resign.

He says, as it stands, the conduct by the overzealous, is a clear manifestation that the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has strong detest of democracy that brings along with it rights and freedoms including the right to assemble and conduct peaceful demonstrations.

“By extension, it is now very clear that President Lazarus Chakwera intends to run a government that is not transparent and accountable to the people that double as voters and taxpayers,”.

The CDEDI Chief has since asked Police IG Yolamu to explain unconditional release of people that were arrested on Monday on suspicion that they were planning to disrupt the vigils.

Information has it that the suspects were released unconditionally upon arrival at Lingadzi police.

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