Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders have demanded answers from President Lazarus Chakwera over reports that his ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has been training a paramilitary group of over 160 young people from its MCP youth wing at the Mtakataka Police Training School (PTS) since March this year.
Meanwhile, Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda, confirmed that that several young people are being training at Mtakataka in military-related affairs.
The first phase of the training which started on 7 March 2021 recruited 72 members of the MCP youth wing while the second wave which started on the 4th of this month has recruited 90 militias. Both training were for a six week duration, bringing the total to 162 recruits.
A report prepared by sources within Malawi police Malawi24 has seen reveals that the militias being trained are using Malawi police uniforms to conceal their identities.
“This investigative report can confirm that presently, a new squad of 90 Malawi Congress Party youths is at Mtakataka Police Training School where a second intake of para-military is underway. The team arrived at Mtakataka Police Training School on Sunday, 4th April, 2021 and they are expected to leave Mtakataka Police Training School on 9th May, 2021. This will also be a six weeks training like the first one which started on 7th March and ended on 2nd April, 2021. The 90 Malawi Congress Party youths are being trained in the use of fire arms, assembling of fire arms, shooting using a fire arm at close and long distance (Range), and basic military tactics” alleges the report authored by senior Malawi police officers who refused to be part of the illegal training.
“The report seeks to share with Malawians, whose tax is being wasted by the Chakwera led government in training of MCP youths as militias (Special Police), for this is against the laws of Malawi and poses security threat to the neighboring countries, donor communities, the intelligence agency, Malawi Army, Malawi Police and the citizens at large”, it is alleged.
The report also names officials that coordinated and facilitated the training; some of which include Malawi Police Trainer of Trainers and State House officials on security affairs. The team also includes President Chakwera’s aide n security who happens to be a retired Malawi Army official. The names which we can not disclose as we were unable to get their side have been shared with the UN, US and the EU embassies in Malawi.
Authors of the report described the training as “a threat to Malawi democracy [which] compromises the national security. There is need for instantaneous action to stop this psychosis from continuing before things get out of hand.”
Malawi24 understands that SADC leaders have called upon Chakwera to explain himself why his MCP is training and arming its youth wing “on the use guns” and “non-weaponry combat” at a police training school in Mtakataka. SADC leaders are said to have informed Chakwera that the region is deeply disturbed and concerned with the reports that the Malawi ruling party is setting arm a paramilitary group similar to the Malawi Young Pioneer (MYP) which was disbanded by the Malawi Defence Force at the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1993 during Operation Bwenzani.
It is estimated that there were 6,000 armed Young Pioneers before they were disbanded. Adequately trained militarily and heavily armed, the MYP were licensed to conduct secret surveillance and kill opponents who posed as a threat to President Kamuzu Banda and his dictatorial regime.
A Member of Parliament last month asked Chakwera about the issue in Parliament but Minister of Homeland Security,Richard Chimwendo Banda, gagged the president saying the issue borders on national security despite the people being trained being members of the MCP youth wing rather than the Malawi police.
Queries from SADC leaders come on the heels of serious allegations that some young people fighting against government forces in Mozambique are recruited from Malawi which shares a borders with Mozambique in several districts.
Despite having gagged the President in Parliament, MCP Director of Youth who also serves as Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda, confirmed that there is a training at Mtakataka of n0n-police officials. He insisted that 150 plus people undergoing paramilitary training are employees of the State House.
“They are undergoing normal training [because they do not have] any experience in security issues; hence, we are training them in basic security protocols,” Chimwendo Banda has been qouted as saying by Nyasa Times.
Mzati Nkolokosa, the seasoned journalist who first exposed the training has been arrested. He is yet to be charged.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security is investigating the training. Chairperson of the Committee, Jappie Mhango, visited Mtakataka in Salima to investigate the matter and that his team will report back to Parliament with the findings.
Ironically, Malawi police and Malawi Defence Force are the only institutions legally mandated to provide security at State House as well as to protect the President, implying the people being trained are outside the constitutional mandate. Chimwendo Banda has not detailed why the ruling Malawi Congress Party has opted to recruit new people to offer security at State House.