By Sinikiwe Marodza
A 15-member delegation from Malawi recently visited the Harare City Council for a three-day mentorship programme on how to run an effective municipal police.
Malawi has embarked on a journey to build and enforce an effective municipal police since over the past few years, the country’s urban councils were running without its own police and depending on the national police force.
Malawi’s Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Secretary, Kiswell D Dakamu, who was head of the delegation that visited Zimbabwe, said the burden has become too much for the national police hence creating an environment where residents were no longer abiding by the council’s rules and regulations.
Dakamu said following the high rate of urbanisation in Malawi, a need had risen for town councils to stand on their own in terms of enforcing by-laws.
“In Malawi, the local government benefit from the national police services, but in recent years the national police is failing to meet urban councils’ needs in terms of enforcing by-laws.
“Because of the high rate of urbanisation and at the same time looking at the scope of operations in our urban councils, we have observed that the national police is over worked.
“In many incidences, the national police fails to attend to issues that look pertinent to our urban councils because they have major issues to take care of.
“Issues of illegal structures, illegal vending or even traffic control are not getting enough attention in our country, that is why we want to make sure that we come up with an effective municipality police,” he said.
Dakamu added: “We want a police force that will only focus on the by-laws. We need the availability of the police to always make sure that the councils are supported and that’s why as the Malawi government, we are exploring the establishment of municipal police in our cities.
“We want a strong municipal police that will be able to complement the national police.”
Before visiting Zimbabwe, the Malawian contingent also travelled to South Africa for the same purpose.
They spent three days with the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police learning and taking notes on how to run an effective municipality police.
Dakamu said Malawi had chosen to learn from Zimbabwe and South Africa so as to push the South-South Cooperation agenda among SADC countries.
“We could have looked else for the knowledge on how to run an effective municipal police, but the question is why look east or west when your own sisters are doing it quiet well?
“From South Africa to Zimbabwe, we got very informative lessons indeed and we are happy that we are able to have such practices within the region.
“As we all know that it has always been north west-south cooperation, where largely learning from our colleges from the west and the north has always been the norm.
“It feels good to practice the south-south cooperation policy and learning from within our region,” Dakamu added.
The Malawian contingent was in Zimbabwe from February 4 to February 6 and the head of the delegation praised the Harare municipality for the good works they are doing.
“Harare municipality is doing really well and our visit has benefited us in so many ways.
“We have learnt very much important issues from establishing the municipality police to how to run it.
“We have learnt everything including the legal documentation that is needed for a municipality police to run properly,” Dakamu said.
Harare town clerk Hosiah Chisango said his council was honoured to have such wonderful visitors.
“We got a chance to share what we do and it was such a great experience.
“From the discussions we had, we noticed that the challenges we face are the same and we look forward to keep helping and supporting each other,” Chisango said.
Apart from sharing ideas on running an effective municipality, Zimbabwe and Malawi have pledged to keep supporting each other and working together in developing their cities.
Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Ministry of Local Government and Urban and Rural Development and the Malawian Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development signed a memorandum of understanding under the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JMPCC) that enforces strong relations between the two parties.
The JMPCC encourages cities to work together and establish sister relationships, whereby the two parties will be learning from each other.