By Iommie Chiwalo
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has learnt with surprise and shock from media reports indicating that the Republic of Rwanda has offered to train officers from Malawi Police Service (MPs) for free of charge.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, Malawi government has been asked not to take the offer.
The offer, has come through the Rwandan Inspector General of Police Dan Munyuza, who is in the country on a five day official visit.
In a statement made available to this publication, CDEDI is surprised with the offer because, Malawi Government has not publicly declared any area that requires capacity building.
“Secondly, the Republic of Rwanda has also not indicated, which area in the MPS it wants to help in building capacity and that Rwanda’s human rights record is a concern,” Namiwa says.
He says CDEDI does not think that the Republic of Rwanda is any nearer a model where countries that are striving to embrace genuine democracy such as Malawi, can tap skills, especially for an important institution like the police office which is key in fostering democratic principles.
Namiwa pointed out that besides infrastructural development that Rwanda is undertaking, it is not a hidden secret that there are massive reports of human rights violations bordering on excessive use of force by law enforcing agencies; unlawful and arbitrary detentions; internet restrictions by the State; lack of freedom of expression; human rights activists and opposition political party leaders being silenced through arbitrary arrests and imprisonment based on trumped-up charges; etc.
“Obviously, Rwandan police are take centre-stage in this gloomy picture. The proposed offer for training our police service by the Rwandan police confirms our fear that the recent Malawi Government directive to relocate all refugees and asylum seekers to Dzaleka is politically motivated,” he says.
Another source of worry, as expressed by Namiwa, is that the offer is coming at a time the Republic of Rwanda is busy hunting down some of its nationals who have sought political asylum in various countries, including Malawi.
“We would like to challenge the Malawi Government to tread carefully with these newly-found good Samaritans. Ironically, this offer is also coming at a time when dust has not yet settled on accusations that President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, and his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) are pushing through Parliament laws have traits of dictatorship,” he says in a statement.
However,Namiwa says, remarks by Malawi’s Inspector General of Police Dr. George Kainja, who has assured all refugees and asylum seekers in the country that they are free to either return to their home countries, or continue living in Malawi for as long as they want are a sigh of relief.
But, according to Namiwa, while CDEDI would like to commend Dr. Kainja for his assurance that the police will continue to protect the lives and property of the Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers, it is important to point out that a larger percentage of the refugees that fled and continue fleeing Rwanda are victims of political persecution and infringements of basic human rights.
“That said, much as we respect Inspector Munyuza’s sentiments that he sees no reason for his countrymen and women to continue coming to Malawi as refugees and asylum seekers, reports from the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Department of State of the United States of America, show things to the contrary,” he says.
It is against this background that CDEDI has since reiterated its earlier commitment that it will continue lobbying for the integration of well-meaning refugees and asylum seekers in Malawi who are significantly contributing to the country’s social and economic development.
Namiwa warns the Malawi government, to desist from receiving offers that may end up compromising the country’s human rights record and democracy, and the hard-won democracy.
But National Police spokesman James Kadadzela says the offer was based on goodwill looking at common security challenges facing the African continent continent.