Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Willie Mwaluka: The Face of the Malawi Police Service
The Malawi Police Service (MPS) has been one of the busiest establishments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member state.
At the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1994, MPS sought the route of reformation, and started remaking the face that was but tainted by the brutal Malawi Congress Party regime.
Among other strategic decisions made was the idea to change its name from Malawi Police Force (because the days when everything tilted towards the term 'force' went with the remains of the one-party regime) to Malawi Police Service. So far, this has borne fruit as suspects' handling has donned a respect-for-human rights approach, though cases of police beatings, maimings and kicking resurface here and there.
The other crucial decision has been the decentralisation of infromation delivery systems. Each district has a Police Public Relations Officer to give information on the spot.
On major issues, however, there is a National Police Public Relations Officer in the name of Willie Mwaluka to give the official side of the story.
Mwaluka is soft-spoken and, so far, he has carried on his duties well.
He is also friendly.
Thus in case you decide to come to Malawi and face difficulties, Mwaluka and his team of district Public Relations Officers will be there to help you, guide you- and refer you to the right people.
The concept of Community Policing has ss, too. Community members are now taking an active part in security matters.
However, MPS has its problems, too. Yesterday's interruption of a peaceful demonstration organisation by the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) and the subsequent arrest and release of its General Secretary Robert Mkwezalamba taints the otherwise good image MPS has built over the years.
The other black spot is the beating of vendors caught selling merchandise in undesignated places.
This brutality must come to an end.
This notwithstanding, MPS can be said to be a good case in point when we want to talk about changes taking place in Malawi.
The Warm Heart of Africa can just get warmer.