Chinese traders wanted out of Mzuzu: Vendors threaten unspecified action

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.

A man browses through pairs of Chinese made shoes in a shop, 20 June 2006 in the downtown area of  Ugandan capital Kampala, known for imports of Chinese made footwear. The Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabao, is currently on a seven-nation tour of Africa and arrives in Uganda on Friday 23rd June for a two-day visit to discuss bilateral cooperation and trade opportunities. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

A man browses through pairs of Chinese made shoes in a shop. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

A Malawian hawker sells food outside a Chinese owned shop.-REUTERS/Ed Cropley

A Malawian hawker sells food outside a Chinese owned shop.-REUTERS/Ed Cropley

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.”

 Not Protected

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.

 Unspecified Action

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 .

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30 thoughts on “Chinese traders wanted out of Mzuzu: Vendors threaten unspecified action”

  1. Sandram says:

    To beautify and end jobless crisis its just better to have a China city somewhere in the country. That I believe will help our locked country having beautiful buildings and many more.

  2. Winston msowoya says:

    Mr.Charles,please get educated,Burundians are our fellow brothers and sisters we have the same blood and culture.You go to Burundi today,you have nowhere to eat or sleep,Burundians will keep you and will feed you without paying a single Kwacha.At the same time,you go to Beijing you have nowhere to sleep or eat,your place is a filthy prison before you are tortured and humiliated as a monkey,this is what they call us you fool.Mind you, Chinese are in Africa not to help build our economies,but ease their population growth which cannot cope up with a 2 billion plus people,to ease joblessness if the government sends its people to other countries,mostly Africa where the leaders are controlled by back-room small amount of US$ that is why you see endless influx of Chinese people in our country and other parts of the Continent,this is their government’s strategy to handle job crisis in their country.Malawians used to eat delicious chickens inherited from their forefathers,but with the coming of these obnoxious racists into Africa,we are eating chickens filled with chemicals in their body systems,hence multiples of maladies like HBP and many more others which are killing our African people.As Iam writing this piece,it is widely acknowledged that there are more than 2.5million Chinese in Sub-Saharan Africa more than half by far,are living illegally and the Chinene authorities acknowledge this fact.Chisese are involved in much more illegal poaching of our precious wild life like mejistic Elephants,Rhinos,Lions,Leopards the list is long.Our forests in national parks are wiped out for timbers.By and large,Chinese are in Africa to destroy our resources to their advantages and to our miseries.Please Malawians Wakeup from your slumber and better trust the devil you know than that you do not know.For your information,Africa is heading to fill its garbage yards with Chinese fake goods,do not blame anybody,but your stupidity alongside your idiotic leadership.

  3. Charles says:

    # 22, the issue here is not about tribe (the Tumbuka) but about running a business. The man who is leading the Mzuzu market vendors in complaining about the Chinese traders is OSMAN KAPIDA and it is easy to note that he is definitely not Tumbuka & not from the Northern region. You may aalso wish to know that Mzuzu market, like most markets in the Northern region is ‘infested’ with Yao and Lomwe traders. Sadly, most of these traders lack basic education and business knowledge to run successful businessess. Most of them engage in the same line of business (either second hand clothes or shoes) and their prices are usually exorbitant. Naturally, customers are attracted to cheaper Chinese products.These traders should be innovative and find other lines of products if to succeed in business. They should compete with the Chinese and not advocate their removal from Mzuzu. If their businessess are failing in Mzuzu they should relocate and try in other towns.And why the Chinese only? There are many Burundians who are all over Malawi illegally and also doing business. What are you going to do about them?

  4. James kotoki says:

    The people doing business in mzuzu are not atumbuka but alomwe .atumbuka work and they have no time for gain.

  5. Fairness says:

    I support the wholesales Idea. Let locals retail, all foreigners wholesale. What the Chinese are doing is like farmer A plants a garden of 20000 thousand cabbage heads and decides to sell all alone at retail outlet. This tendacy will adversely affect and displace many small business who would have benefitted from farmer A. The Chinese are following their products from production to final consumption levels. Trully the government would have already acted some time ago.

    At the same time local businesses charge exorbitantly no wonder Chinese/foreigners attract more customers. We again need to change our business mind set and study why Chinese are cheaper. Even if wholesaling was left to us we are going to charge exorbitantly. Eg same thing at Taifa market and Chinese price will not match even though rentals for Chinese are high. There some shops who charge exorbitantly. So let’s approach this issue constructively not out of sheer jelousy.

  6. Zabwino says:

    A group of failures from a failed state. Shame!!!!

  7. g says:

    Atumbuka inu. Can’t even do business. So you think the Chinese are only in mzuzu. When will you ever stop complaining. FOTSEKI

  8. To those that are criticizing the local traders to compete with foreign traders must know that they are bringing the argument without substance. Are you aware that the Chinese government empowers their citizens abroad with the non repayment, interest free start up capital for their business. How many Malawian traders have received such a grant from our government? What we hear is a loan with 50% repayment. How can such a person compete with the Chinese traders. Mziko lililonse amadandaula za ma ma Chinese. Vuto la a Malawi mungaphunzile maka umbuli suwumachoka m’mutu. Muka mapeleka mfundo zanu ndi kachizungu kogulaka mumawoneka ngati mukukamba za mzelu.

  9. Redeemed says:

    We live in time where only the fittest survive. These allegations are precisely what fuelled the xenophobic attacks that saw many foreigners residing in South Africa being killed and many more dispersed.
    You will recall my previous comment that Malawi wants to emulate South African without considering the consequences.
    The main challenge with the locals is laziness to conduct adequate research in order to improve the viability of there business
    There’s another trend I have picked up in local merchants called the copy cat syndrome. this syndrome has destroyed many small scale businesses for a simple reason that, eventually there are more supplies for the particular product compared to the buyers or customers.
    Those who studied Business Economics will agree with me that, a relation between more supply versus low demand determines low price.

  10. umziya says:

    Useless Malawians, U pressurized Kamuzu to chase Indians away from focal trading points to cities only. What was left of the buildings the Indians Left?? And do you think your merchandise can fill the gap that will left when the Chinese leave? Mxiiiiiiiiiiii

  11. Bwanamkubwa says:

    Atumbuka ndi aulesi kwambiri . Koma nkhani dzokwatana pachibale ndi kutapa kutaya

    1. Baba wa Boy says:

      Vendors in Mzuzu are not Tumbukas, Kapida is not even from the North. Muzipitila limodzi ndima China wo.

  12. You need to compete. Dont cry..This is a competitive world.

  13. nankalizi says:

    Inu mukufuna ife amphawi tizigula katundu mokwera mtengo pofuna kusangalatsa a malonda achimalawi?

  14. Watate says:

    The local traders have a point since trade needs to be regulated to ensure fairness. However, this issue can not be resolved by violent means…that is typical of xenophobia. All factors need to be thoroughly considered in order to achieve peaceful co-existence among the concerned parties.

  15. Tengupenya says:

    Lower prices are beneficial to the public. The local traders should find out how their foreign competitors are having lower operational costs and so able to offer lower prices than the local traders. It can be the volumes they trade or the source of their merchandize. The value of goods increases along the supply chain. The more middlemen and interim processes, the higher the landed costs of goods and these costs are eventually passed on to the last consumer. In the past, it was established that in some cases foreign traders used tricks that helped them to evade some statutory costs like taxes. So blame it on your corrupt officials who do not tax foreigners but heavily tax local traders. Nsanje and vendettas are used in the taxation system when there is lack of transparency. So the solution might lie in demanding transparency in the taxation of merchandize brought in for resale in Malawi. Do not blame the competitors. Low prices are good for consumers.

  16. Viyazi Tembo says:

    its pay back time, they built stadium, roads, universities etc for you foolish Malawians, now you hate them, munapatsadi galu pabwino……..

  17. That our government. It doesn’t care at all on common man in the street which forms majority of voters. I miss Kamuzu.

    1. Zoona Zimenezi? says:

      Kodi iwe Kaisi: Umandipwetekesa mtima when you always say “I miss Kamuzu…” Koma zoona zimenezo? That can”t be for real. How old are you, and did you really live under that dictator son of a gun?



  19. Yafipa says:

    Ationjeza musatiwale tikhoza kuotcha ife akuno sitinyengelera azatimanga tikatuluka machaines atijayira wotch out goverment

  20. 2016 welcome says:

    Good news for the poor though. A Malawi penapake mumanyanya kudulitsa zinthu. Maluwa weniweniyu woti mumawoda ku Unilever outlet mukapeza pa shop ya m’Malawi ali mtengo wokwera koma ya Burundi mtengo wotsikirapo. Tsono muti ma China achoke m’matauni ndiye muti apite kuti? Komanso mukongonama zoti inu ndiye bank imakutchajani chiongola chachikulu. Bodza! A Malawi kudulitsa katundu. Nkhani ngati yomweyi inachitikanso ku Neno pa nkhani ya nkhuku. Government should try to strike a balance here in the interest of the poor. Or my fellow poor residents in Mzuzu let’s organize a counter demonstration. A satipondereze a business awa!

  21. Mlomwe waku Thyolo says:

    a Malawi ndife anthu aulesi. Anzathu akunja akabwera kuno amalimbikira and they prosper.

    Ife mitengo yathu imakhala yokwera komanso sitimatukuka.

    Let us learn from the foreigners.

  22. Wokwiya says:

    The vendors have a point on interest rates. Malawians cannot compete because they have to pay 50% interest on their business loans. Until the government sorts out the interest rates, they need to protect the locals from such predatory competition! Otherwise Government is killing Malawian entrepreneurs and without entrepreneurs Malawi will never transform itself from a consuming nation to an exporting nation! If APM is serious he should ask his minister of trade to act now!

  23. LessChildrenPlease says:

    Well, well! Competition is good for the consumer. Just tough up and compete, I would say. These complaints are not new – Indian rural businesses closed in the 70’s but I do not believe that did Malawi any good.

  24. Benjones says:

    This is Malawi the foreign land for Malawian

  25. wa ku Mitchesi kujaaaaa!!!! says:

    I thought the law prohibited “foreigners” from engaging in retail business in rural areas? Acceptable in cities, like Mzuzu? Otherwise, why doesn’t someone take the government to task, in court, to enforce its own law?
    But then, how a location is defined as rural, in another matter.

  26. Smoko boy. says:

    Looks like malawi is for foreigners than Malawians themselves.

  27. Green Grass says:

    You can’t eat your cake and have it. When the Chinese government gives you soft loans and grants you applaud them yet when it’s nationals who helped the government to create the wealth they are sharing you hate them. Simply put instead of blaming foreigners blame the poor performing economy which is resulting in people have little disposable income which you business persons have to scramble for. So it’s the survival of the fittest!

  28. yakumbuyo says:

    Indians ,chines ,Pakistans even some Malawians get loans of 1o% payable in long periods while with us is 50% in 18 months .Why should we accept this

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