A horde of disillusioned businesspersons in Mzuzu have ganged up with demands that they want all foreign traders, especially Chinese nationals owning retail shops, out on the basis that the latter are “frustrating” their businesses.
The businesspersons, approximately over two hundred, say it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete with the foreigners as these, they claim, “choose to sell their goods at unbelievably low prices” and thereby “obstruct fair competition.”
Spokesperson of the traders who are presently to have themselves registered as a group, Osman Kapida, singled out the Chinese as their “worst thorn in the flesh.”
Kapida said that there is “a huge competition gap” that exists between the two sides.
“They don’t care when they are setting up prices because they really don’t care about losses. But we do because in our businesses we always have got bank loans to re-pay, and lending rates in the country are exorbitant,” said Kapida.
He pegged the current lending rates at forty nine to fifty per cent, and claimed for the foreign traders the rates can be “as low as one per cent.”
Kapida blamed government for casting a blind eye on their predicament even despite the fact that they “know what is happening.”
He said it was not “unfortunate” that the Ministry of Industry and Trade was not taking action on the matter.
“We’re not protected,” he said. “We’re not, and it is frustrating.”
According to the business laws of Malawi, foreigners are not supposed to engage directly with customers in retail businesses but rather on wholesale.
Last year, Kapida claimed, they tried to petition government but the Ministry of Trade spokesperson at the time asked them “why they were complaining about the Chinese only.”
But Kapida told Nyasa Times that they did so because it is the Chinese’s way of doing businesses that “hurts most.
“Why can’t they do wholesale and let us by from them?” he queried.
The grouping is since preparing a fresh petition with warning that should government not respond positively they will stage unspecified action.
“We will not do anything for now. But should we notice that government is in no mood to support us, we will let them know how frustrated we are,” warned Kapida.
In 2011, six Chinese shops were closed in Dedza because the owners were operating without permits.
The local merchants said they could not compete with the Chinese businesspersons who flooded the market with cheap products.
In 2012, businesspersons in Karonga expressed similar sentiments of the Chinese traders over the same. During the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the July 2011 anti-government protests, scores of people of Karonga blatantly said they had looted shops that belonged to the Chinese nationals because they “hate them.”
Later, 33 vendors signed a petition that was presented to the District Commissioner which claimed that the Chinese were “suffocating” their businesses.
Late president Bingu wa Mutharika, who initiated bilateral relations with China, always appealed to Malawians to be more positive of investment from Beijing, saying the Chinese government “has brought a lot of development in this country.”
Ministry of Industry and Trade officials could not immediately comment .Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :