General Vincent Nundwe says he was pleased with President Lazarus Chakwera’s decision to reinstate him as Malawi Defence Force (MDF) commander, six months after he was unceremoniously removed from that office.
President Chakwera made the announcement at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Tuesday.
Former President Peter Mutharika removed Nundwe from the position in March this year after only serving for nine months and replaced him with General Peter Namathanga.
Under normal circumstances an MDF General is expected to serve a term of four years, unless he commits a serious disciplinary blunder.
Chakwera said Mutharika erred in removing Nundwe from the position hence, his reinstatement. He could, however, not indicate what would happen to Namathanga.
“My fellow citizens. Earlier today, I reversed my predecessor’s appointment of a new commander and deputy commander of the Malawi Defence Force. As you may recall in March this year, General Vincent Nundwe was relieved of his command and deployed elsewhere in the public service without justification.
“Although the former president had ultimate responsibility for the Malawi Defence Force as Commander-In-Chief and was vested with powers of appointment pursuant to Section 78 subsection 1, Section 89 subsection 1 paragraph d, Section 161 subsections 1 and 2 of the Constitution it was improper to use such powers without cause,” Chakwera said.
He said decision is intended to heal the injury and injustice of an unfair decision inflicted on our entire military as a professional institution.
He noted that he will be convening a meeting of the Defence Council to discuss the appointment of a new deputy commander.
On his part, Nundwe, who was expected to go to India as Malawi’s ambassador, said he was happy with the decision to reinstate him as MDF Commander.
“For me am quite happy. I didn’t finish my vision and my expectation. You know as a commander, normally when you are appointed, the time is supposed to be four years, unless there is a serious indiscipline where you are involved but I was relieved from the position after nine months without any reason.
“I had programmes for the soldiers. Now am quite happy that the new Commander- In-Chief has given me an opportunity to continue pursuing my vision in the MDF,” Nundwe said.
He said his reappointment vindicates the fact that he was removed unceremoniously by the former regime for being professional.
He said MDF is there to serve the citizens and not individuals.
“I advised the previous government that the problems that Malawi faced then were political that required political solutions and not police or army intervention,” he said.
This did not please the then president who removed him as commander of the MDF and replaced him with General Namathanga in the run up to the court sanctioned June 23 Presidential election.
It is not clear what will happen to General Namathanga.
Speaking in an interview Tuesday, Namathanga said he is not bitter, saying the decision is a prerogative of the Commander In Chief.
He said he has not been communicated to as to which position he would hold in the MDF following his removal from the helm.
Defence expert, Marcel Chirwa said the Commander-In- Chief has powers to change the leadership of the MDF adding that where wrong decisions are made, there would always be consequences.
“Each decision has consequences and these are some of the consequences,” Chirwa said.
One political observer said although this was the first time for the MDF commander to be recalled from retirement and be reinstated, it was not a new thing in the country’s security service as in 1994 the then President Bakili Muluzi, recalled the commissioners of police, Feyani Chikhosi,from retirement to head Malawi police service.