a little more news
- Blantyre mayor
Mayor John Chikakwiya: Told he needed civic eduation
By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre
The mayor of Malawi's commercial capital,
Blantyre, John Chikakwiya and three senior
police officers have been found guilty of
contempt of court.
The High Court in Blantyre found that they
disregarded a court order restraining them from
disrupting an opposition political rally in the
The four were sentenced to 14 days
imprisonment, suspended for one and a half
This follows events on 15 January when the
mayor ordered police to disrupt a rally to be
addressed by sacked former senior minister
Mr Mpinganjira and his National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) had teamed up with leaders of
the opposition alliance of the Malawi Congress
Party (MCP) and the Alliance for Democracy
(Aford) for the meeting.
After the mayor's order
the pressure group
obtained a court
the mayor from
disrupting the meeting.
But the mayor, the
High Court heard,
ignored the injunction
order and ordered the
police to use teargas
and rubber bullets to
disperse the 10,000
people who came to
hear Mr Mpinganjira speaking.
Several people were injured, some seriously,
during a stampede.
The NDA complained to the court that its
injunction order was disregarded.
Making his ruling in a packed room, presiding
judge Justice Edward Twea said the mayor and
the police officers acted in total disrespect of
He said the police officers' argument that they
were waiting for an order from above for them
to act on the injunction was in total disregard
of Malawi's democratic principles.
"The Malawi Police Service is a people's service
but it's unfortunate that the police still look for
orders from above in disregard to the rule of
law," he said.
Judge Twea said the
15 January police
action clearly showed
that the police were
acting on the whim of
one political party (the
Democratic Front) at
the expense of the
other political parties.
On Mr Chikakwiya, the
judge said it was high
time the mayor was
told to draw a line
between party politics and civic duties.
"The mayor needs civic education on his role
as mayor; he has to be told that his office
should be above politics," he said.
Mr Chikakwiya refused to speak to journalists
after the ruling.
Monday's ruling is a symbolic victory for Mr
Mpinganjira and his party, whose arrival on the
political scene in January has raised the
political temperature in Malawi.
Last week, government minister Dumbo Lemani
was charged with contempt of court for
ignoring a magistrate's order not to criticise Mr