The Human Rights Conservative Committee (HRCC) has faulted the use of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers in the protection of Chikangawa and Mulanje Mountain Forests saying the practice is eroding people’s confidence in the Malawi Police Services (MPS).
HRCC Board Member Robert Mkezalamba said, on Wednesday, MDF was established to protect Malawi from external forces and that ‘petty’ errand, such as guarding trees, is the responsibility of the police.
“We are abusing our soldiers. The fact that we do not have war at the moment is no reason enough to be sending them on such petty errands. The military was created to protect the people from external forces,” he said.
Mkezalamba sighted the scenario of 20 July 2011 anti-government demonstrations whereby people were looting shops in full view of the police until MDF came in, as a clear indication that Malawians no longer fear the police, a situation he attributed to the over-dependence of the army even in matters that fall in the jurisdiction of the police.
“We are creating a situation whereby people no longer respect our police. This is a recipe for lawlessness,” said Mkezalamba.
While there are growing concerns on the use of soldiers in the protection of Chikangawa and Mulanje Mountain, other sectors of the society feel the move is commendable if the two forest reserves are to regain their long lost glory.