Malawi Defence Force (MDF) commander General Vincent Nundwe has been replaced by Major General Andrew Lapken Namathanga as he will be” assigned other duties in the Public Service”, according to a statement from the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC).
Namathanga’s appointment as commander of MDF and promotion from Major General to the rank of General is with immediate effect.
He was appointed by President Peter Mutharika last year as Airforce Commander.
General Nundwe who is credited for ensuring that Malawi remains a peaceful country amid on-going electoral disputes could not be replaced by his former deputy responsible for operations Lieutenant General Clement Namangale who will also be redeployed to other public duties.
President Mutharika has since appointed MDF commander (Land Forces), Brigadier General Davis Sesatino Mtachi deputy army commander, who for a long time served as aide de camp to then president Bakili Muluzi.
Mtachi has also been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
Last year Mutharika appointed appointed Tri-Service Commanders and Deputy Commanders of the army in line with Section 4 of the Defence Force Act (2018).
Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara says President Mutharika has since appointed Brigadier General Elias Mpaso as Army Commander (Land Forces) and has been promoted to the rank of Major General.
Brigadier Francis Blessings Kakhuta-Banda remains Maritime Force Commander but has been promoted to the rank of Major General.
The President has also appointed Brigadier General Ian Macleod Chirwa as Air Force Commander and has been promoted to the rank of Major General.
Colonel Harrison Kandula has been appointed Air Force Deputy Commander and has been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General while Colonel Desmond Chawanda has been appointed Deputy Army Commander (Land Forces) and promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
The statement further said Colonel Richard Tobias Chagonapanja remains Deputy Maritime Force Commander but has been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
Following the development, Nundwe is expected to hand over the Sword of Command to his successor at Kamuzu Barracks parade square in Lilongwe at a date to be announced later, according to MDF.
Since 2011, there have been frequent changes in Army command after the then president the late Bingu wa Mutharika appointed Henry Odillo whom President Peter Mutharika sacked in June 2014.
Before 2011, the Army commander was Marko Chiziko who served for close to eight years.
When Joyce Banda became President in April 2012 in line with constitutional order following Bingu’s death, she maintained Odillo for his supposed heroic feats when he stood with her after Bingu’s death.
In 2016 President Peter Mutharika fired commander General Ignancio Maulana and replacing him with his former deputy Griffin Supuni-Phiri.
Supuni-Phiri, who for a long time served as Malawi’s military attache at the Malawi Mission at the United Nations and as aide de camp to then president Muluzi, was replaced by Nundwe as he proceeded to be presidential advisor on national security.
Private practiceLawyer John Gift Mwakhwawa, a former president of Malawi Law Society (MLS), observed that the country “will soon have a brigade if not barracks of early retired and energetic Generals and their deputies.”
— Nyasa Times