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    Blantyre mayor convicted Mayor John Chikakwiya: Told he needed civic eduation By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre The mayor of Malawi s commercial capital,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2001
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      Blantyre mayor
      convicted

      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
      city.

      The four were sentenced to 14 days
      imprisonment, suspended for one and a half
      years.

      This follows events on 15 January when the
      mayor ordered police to disrupt a rally to be
      addressed by sacked former senior minister
      Brown Mpinganjira.

      Injunction ignored

      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
      injunction restraining
      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.

      Disrespect

      Making his ruling in a packed room, presiding
      judge Justice Edward Twea said the mayor and
      the police officers acted in total disrespect of
      the courts.

      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
      ruling United
      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
      Mpinganjira.
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