NEW POLICE CHIEF APOLOGISES FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM BLUFF
By Amalawi - Fri Jun 01, 9:47 am
BY OUR REPORTER
In a desperate move to restore public trust and confidence, inspector general of police Lotti Dzonzi on Wednesday held a lecture at Chancellor College a constituent college of the University of Malawi (UNIMA) in Zomba city in order to reach out to the University of Malawi students and members of staff.
Dzonzi who replaced Peter Mukhito has since promised students and staff of the college that the Malawi police service would not intervene on the academic freedom. He apologized for the sour relationship between police and UNIMA which emanated from the academic freedom impasse and how the Malawi police service handled the saga.
“I am aware just as all of you are aware that the academic freedom issue brought differences between the police and the University of Malawi. I assure you that no more would the police interfere with this fundamental right of academic freedom” said Dzonzi to the clapping and cheers of the students who earlier teased and mocked the police chief for visiting the premises without guns and teargas as the police used to do. Dzonzi’s apology has come at a time president Mrs. Joyce Banda ordered the police to be soft on University students.
In a memo President Banda is reported to have ordered the police chief to issue orders to all police officers in the country to no longer use force to quell demonstrations by University students even if things turn nasty. In the said memo president Banda is also reported to have also called on police officers in the country to desist from using any form of force when enforcing law and order as per to their duty.
Some officers reportedly laughed off the order saying it puts police officers at a tricky but risky position considering the nature of their duty.
Dzonzi’s predecessor Peter Mukhito stepped in the wrong foot of the academia in 2010 when he summoned a political science lecturer Blessings Chinsinga over an example he gave in class on likening the cause of uprisings in North Africa to the situation in Malawi.
Following the summon University of Malawi Lecturers downed tools and asked Mukhito to apologize and assure them of what they called academic freedom.
However former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika who ironically was the chancellor of University of Malawi defended Mukhito his former guard commander and decorated him as the best Inspector General of Police Malawi had ever.
Later University students joined the protest which led to the closure of Chancellor College for almost nine months as authorities could not reach an agreement on the issue which had also been referred to several courts for interpretation and guidance.
Dzonzi later treated students to a party at the Eastern regional police headquarters in Zomba. This was the first time in years for police and University students to enjoy such a relationship.