FACULTY OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
DEPARTMENT OF GOVERNANCE, PEACE AND SECURITY STUDIES
TO : MR .E. NJOLOMA
FROM : BSS/43/17.
COURSE TITLE : ARMS CONTROL AND NON-PROLIFERATION
COURSE CODE : SSAC3603
TOPIC : A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE EFFECTS OF THE
PROLIFERATION OF SALW IN MALAWI
ASSIGNMENT NO: 1
LEVEL : III.
SEMESTER : VI.
DUE DATE : 9TH JULY, 2018.
1. O Introduction
The essence of this essay is to make a critical assessment of the effects of proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Malawi. There are many effects that have been perpetuated by the use of SALW in Malawi, but this essay outlines only a few of them. Small arms and light weapons proliferation is a serious threat to security and development in many of the countries that make up the Southern African Development Community. Malawi as a member state of SADC faces a lot of security challenges because of small arms and light weapons proliferation. To effectively manage the security challenges Malawi needs to work hand in hand with other member states in the region as well as outside the region (Gtz, 2002).
Malawi is a landlocked country of 118 484 square kilometers which includes 24 208 sq km of inland water. It borders Tanzania to the north, Zambia to the west, and Mozambique to the south and east along the shores of Lake Malawi (Danish Centre for Human Rights, 1999). The issue of small arms and light weapons proliferation in Malawi is an area of concern with the security sector grappling to curb the proliferation. SALW cause many untold sufferings to the Malawian community once they are in the hands of the criminals. Many people, including the security operatives are of the view that the increase in small arms in Malawi is as a result of the Mozambique civil war as well as the war torn countries of the great lakes region (DRC) and the horn of Africa (Somalia). Asylum seekers and illegal immigrants enter Malawi with small arms and ammunition as the country lacks proper screening procedures in its borders (Afrol News).
1.1 Historical background
Malawi received independence from Britain in 1964 and was a one party state led by Dr .H. Kamuzu Banda of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1994 Malawi held its first multi-party elections under a provisional constitution. Prior to 1994, the Banda regime used the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) to control the general populace of Malawi. MYP members were trained in the use of firearms, martial arts and battle tactics, and were armed with automatic weapons, mainly sourced from South Africa, Israel and Taiwan (Phiri, 2000). Although the MYP were known to commit human rights abuses, their repressive control contributed to the prevention of petty crime. In late 1993 the MYP was forcibly disbanded and partially disarmed by the Malawi military. However, approximately 2 000 MYP members fled into Mozambique with their firearms (Phiri, 20000).There was no audit undertaken to determine the extent to which firearms were recovered from those MYP members who remained in Malawi. Since then there has been a marked increase in the level of crime, particularly organized crime, armed robbery and motor vehicle theft (Charman, 2003).
2.0 Definitions according to National Firearms Control Policy (Malawi)
The definitions below are for the purposes of the NFCP and are in line with the standard operating procedures for the implementation of the Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials in the SADC Region (2001).
2.1Firearm Any portable lethal weapon that expels, or is designed to expel, a shot, bullet or projectile by the action of burning propellant, excluding antique firearms or their replicas that are not subject to authorization in the respective State Parties.
2.3 Small armsIncludes light machine guns, sub-machine guns, including machine pistols, fully automatic rifles and assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles.2.4Light weaponsinclude the following portable weapons designed for use by several persons serving as a crew: heavy machine guns, automatic cannons, howitzers, mortars of less than 100 mm calibre, grenade launchers, antitank weapons and launchers, recoilless guns, shoulder-fired rockets, anti-aircraft weapons and launchers, and air defense weapons.
3.0 The Effects of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Malawi
Small arms and light weapons affect Malawi negatively especially in the areas of safety and security, and in many other aspect of life and outlined below are some of the effects of SALW in the country:
3.1 Reduced International Investment
The rising cases of armed robberies in the country, has the potential to scare away the international investors who would want to invest in the country. For instance, in Blantyre and surrounding areas, there has been an increase in armed robberies targeting banks and industries. For instance, Blantyre police arrested blessings Kachere in Ndirande town ship and was found in possession of seven different number plates. According to Blantyre police, Kachere used BP 2766 on a Toyota corolla that was involved in the robbery of k958, 800.00 which belonged to Rab processors limited in June 2014 (Lucky Mkandawire, 2014). A man employed by Petroda –Malawi head office at Chichiri was shot dead by armed robbers who got away with over k4 million. In another circumstance, one police officer was shot dead and two other persons were rushed to the hospital after armed robbers hit a First Merchant Bank in Blantyre (capital F.M, 2014). In a related development armed robbers stole k500 million from standard bank in Mzuzu in which they forced at gun point an employee of the bank to beat the system (Pius Nyondo). Security is prerequisite for a country like Malawi to attract foreign investors. Before embarking on any project investors are first assured of security to their businesses. The examples mentioned here are just a few of the many armed attacks in Malawi, but the implication could be that new investors would not be willing to invest and existing investments could be greatly affected with others considering disinvesting (Gtz, 2002).
3.2 Reduced Local Investment
Security also plays a vital role for local investments to flourish in any country, Malawi inclusive. The increase in armed robberies will greatly affect decisions on local investment in Malawi. A spate of armed robberies that are happening in the country leaves a lot to be desired. For instance in Lilongwe four armed robbers (Gift Makalani, Maxwell Malanda, Alex Chagunda and Amos Mwanyungwe) were arrested and were found in possession of a firearm. These criminals attacked and robbed Donnas Eggs and Robbray limited companies a combined amount of mk6.6 million (Raphael Mvona, 2014). In another development four men were arrested by Chiradzulu police (Elaton Matias, Sanderson Kholiyo, Harold Khungwa and Frazer Banda). They robbed Thyolo Chipiku stores money amounting to mk1 million and mk110, 000 from a Telecom Networks Malawi airtime dealer. The police later recovered an AK 47 with 11 live ammunitions that was being used in the robberies (Sungani Kamwendo, 2017). This not only affects the formal business sector, but also the informal sector. Micro-investment was being affected by the fear of loss of cash, stock and assets due to armed robbery (Gtz, 2002). Local investment cannot flourish whereby people’s properties and cash are under constant attacks by armed robbers.
3.3 Impact on Tourism
The proliferation of small arms and light weapons has greatly affected the Tourism sector in the country. Malawi has witnessed a number of armed attacks on foreign nationals. For instance, a South African man Harry Wakeford was shot dead in Karonga district. Harry Wakeford had been in a company of friends and was shot dead when he was trying to rescue a female travel companion who had been attacked by armed robbers at Mufwakuwanthu lodge in Karonga district. In Rumphi a man was arrested and sentenced to 14 years for shooting a Dutch national (Nyirenda, 2018). Tourism is an important hard currency earner and employment generator for Malawi. Due to increased number of armed attacks on foreign nationals tourism has declined. According to Gtz, tour operators along Lake Malawi in the Chintheche area confirmed that tourism levels were low compared to previous times, although South African tourists seem to be returning. The bigger spenders, however, are the tourists who come from overseas, principally Europe and the USA, and these are few and far between.
3.4 Impact on Wildlife Management
Across Africa the scourge that is poaching, is removing natural resources at an unprecedented rate. Malawi is no exception to the hugely negative impacts of poaching on biodiversity and the natural ecosystem processes that sustain both people and wildlife (Ngamo News, 2014). The proliferation of SALW has led to the increase in armed poachers. In the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, heavily armed gangs of poachers (mainly using AK-47 Assault Rifles) caused havoc in Malawi’s parks and wildlife areas (Gtz, 2002). Over 50% of elephants have been lost, and Kasungu National Park supports 50 elephants down from 2,000 in the late 1980s. The illegal trade in ivory is driving the killing of the elephants, and armed criminal gangs now pose a real and immediate threat to rangers and local communities (Victoria May et al, 2010-17). In the Mwabvi Game Reserve the entire Black Rhino population was eradicated, and between 1988 and 1992, 250 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory in the Majete Game Reserve. Five game scouts were killed by poachers between 1990 and 1996. The heavily armed poachers had far superior firepower compared to the old 0.303 rifles of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and easily dominated them in confrontations. Other weapons commonly encountered are heavy rifles (0.458; 0.375 civilian rifles, and G3 and M16 military weapons). These are used for poaching elephant for ivory, which can be classified as organized crime (Gtz, 2002).
3.5 Impact on Safety and Security
The proliferation of small arms and light weapons is one of the many challenges currently facing Malawi. Many people live in fear now than when Dr H Kamuzu Banda was in power from 1964-1994. The proliferation of small arms has led to the increase of armed criminals, who terrorize many sectors of the society. According to the then inspector general of the Malawi police lot Dzonzi, the growth of organized criminality has sucked the strength of the Malawi police service, particularly in urban areas. There has been a spate of armed robberies, murders and carjacking, creating fear and panic among Malawians. For instance, two women were seriously wounded after they were struck by stray bullets during gun fire between a robbery victim and the alleged robbers at Machinjiri Township in Blantyre and also a government ambulance was carjacked in the eastern district of Balaka in which a medical worker was also shot dead (Chauwa, 2014). This shows that Malawi has been greatly affected by the proliferation of SALW. In a related development an AK 47 and an unregistered SanLG motorcycle were recovered by Namwera police in Mangochi district (Africa-live, 2018). According to police, the two gadgets belonged to two Mozambicans who have been terrorizing the area. SALW is a threat to human security in the contemporary world and slows down human development in many aspects. Small arms make crime more easily thereby taking a heavy toll in human life (Walter Dorn, 1999).
3.6 Increase of Insurance Premiums
The proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Malawi has greatly affected motor vehicle owners. There has been an increase in insurance premiums due to thefts of motor vehicles and motor cycles in the country (Christopher Jimu, 2015). For instance, a motor vehicle which was being driven by mike Kabango, belonging to the office of president and cabinet was stolen at gun point in area 18A in Lilongwe and one person was shot dead in the process. In a similar event armed robbers stole at gun point a vehicle, a white Toyota corolla vvti registration number LA6060 which belonged to Mohamed Gaffer the owner of executive security company. In an attempt to curb the malpractice, magistrate Viva Nyimba sentenced Mike Haji to 18 years imprisonment with hard labor for theft of motor vehicle LL1350 which belonged to Chimera Breweries in Zingwangwa newlines in Blantyre (Maurice Nkawihe, 2015).
Malawi’s official crime statistics indicate an apparent decrease in general crimes. However statistics on crimes of impact that include Robberies that involve use of guns and people being found in possession of firearms indicate an apparent increase. The proliferation of SALW into the country from conflict afflicted areas particularly in Africa, homemade muzzle loaders, unreported Malawi-based arms caches derived from the activities of the MYP and Young Democrats has destroyed lives and livelihoods, bred insecurity of the person and property, and caused fear and terror amongst the people in various ways, thereby compromising people’s human rights.
However the country has shown commitment in curbing the malpractice by implementing a range of measures to address the illicit proliferation of firearms, ammunition and other related materials, as well as strengthen controls over legal stockpiles of weapons. During the first quarter of 2002 (January to March) 105 illegal firearms were seized. The largest haul was of 33 firearms seized in Mwanza, 19 of which were AK47s and in Ntcheu police recovered two fire arms and 19live ammunition. Malawi established a National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons in April 2006. Through the signing and ratification of the Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials in SADC Region and the Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
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