Officers of the Malawi Police Service, who provided security at the ruling People’s Party (PP) convention in August this year, have demanded allowances for the services they rendered at the event.
But it seems the Peoples Party wants to short-charge the police service by claiming that the party convention was a state function by virtue of the Joyce Banda attending it.
The party and a senior police officer have dismissed the officers, saying the convention was a state function as the head of state attended it.
Some of the officers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said last week there are no indications that they will be paid their dues despite toiling at the event for two days.
“The PP convention was not a state function. It was like a wedding where its organizers secure police services for maximum security at a fee.
“But surprisingly, the PP have not yet paid us allowances and we have not been updated on the state of affairs regarding our allowances for our services,” said one of the officers.
The officers said there was prior communication to the effect that they would be paid allowances for providing security at the convention.
“We were told we would receive allowances as usual, ranging from K6,000 upwards per person per day [depending on one’s rank] for three nights since most officers were drawn from Thyolo and Mulanje to beef up the team of officers in Blantyre.
“But after the convention, no one talked about the allowances and it is difficult for any junior officer to ask for the said allowances as that would be misconstrued as indiscipline and could warrant a disciplinary action,” said another officer.
Organising chairperson for the convention, Vice President Khumbo Kachali, could not respond to an e-mailed questionnaire sent three weeks ago despite sending several reminders on whether or not they included the police in their budget.
When contacted on Thursday, PP publicity secretary Hophmally Makande wondered why the police expected allowances yet it was their duty to protect the president who graced the occasion.
“Ask those officers complaining: ‘Did the vehicle which President Joyce Banda used during the event belong to the government or the party?’
“The President does not have boundaries when attending functions and the police are answerable should anything happen to her,” said Makande, adding this complaint could be better be addressed by senior police officers and not the party.
Southern Region Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa, under whose jurisdiction the convention was held, referred this paper to the national police headquarters as he said it was a national event.
Deputy National Police Spokesperson Kelvin Maigwa concurred with Makande in an interview on Thursday last week, saying the presence of the head of state at the convention turned it into a state event which deserved free police services.
“We cannot call that convention a private function when there was a Head of State [President President Joyce Banda] doing her official duties.
“Our duty, as police, is to protect life and property as long as it is a lawful gathering to ensure law and order and that convention was a lawful one,” Maigwa said.
Asked further why it could be a state function when organizers of the function emphasised that they would not use government resources, Maigwa maintained his stand, challenging those complaining to address the matter through right channels of registering a complaint in the police service.