Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) Executive Director, John Kapito turned down a K6 million offer government dangled to buy him out in quest to call off the peaceful January 17 consumer demonstrations, Nyasa Times has established.
Prior to the demonstrations which were hailed as peaceful, Nyasa Times revealed government and ruling People’s Party officials went flat out buying those in the organising committee and funded different groups such as vendors, some Rastafarians, youth groups and church leaders who proclaimed that protests are unnecessary.
Kapito is said to have been targeted with a bribe offer to call off the protests.
Some of the organizers who are said to have been bought and eventually pulled out of the Kapito’s team include southern region organizing committee’s spokesperson, Kingsley Mabalani and his chairperson, Mac Sightings Mdoka announced in the presence of his boss Kapito that he had withdrawn from the protests.
In an interview Kapito said: “I am not for sale. And am not that cheap. Even if am offered that money today, I can’t sink to that extent to pocket it because it can’t end my poverty, and the suffering of those am fighting for.“This is about the poverty of poor people. Do you think that can end all the miseries people are going through? “
It is understood that Kapito turned down the money for fear of losing his credibility and risk public criticism.
“He is one person who has some principles you can’t understand. If it were somebody else, would pocket the money, but he told me he could not risk his reputation for that money,” disclosed one of Kapito’s close allies.
Government spokesperson, Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu expressed ignorance of the issue but hailed Cama for peaceful demonstrations.
“I don’t know anything about that. And there was no any taskforce to my knowledge that was set up to buy out the organisers. Meanwhile we should thank the organisers once gains for the peaceful demonstrations, nobody lost their lives or property and that is something we can’t overlook. It will remain in the history of our country as well organized demonstrations,” said Kunkuyu.
Meanwhile, Kapito said their 21 days ultimatum for government to respond to the amended petition expires on February 15 not on 7th as it was believed.
However, Kapito has refused to divulge what course of action will be taken if government never addresses the issues in petition.
Among other issues, the petition asked to stop Kwacha floatation, sell controversial presidential jet and Mercedes Benz cars used by ministers and reduction of presidential convoy, presidential and cabinet travel, corruption, declaration of asserts and bloated cabinet and executive arrogances, the petition also included issues of salary hike and employment of permanent ministerial secretaries.
“I have not received any communication from government but we are still hoping something will come up before February 15th. As of now I can’t preempt what will be done before government responds to the petition,” said Kapito.
During the demonstrations, Kapito disclosed they will hold continuous protests and vigils at State House in order to force government to effect issues raised in the petition.
Kunkuyu said meanwhile government has started responding to the petition citing the reduction of presidential convoy, the grounding of some Mercedes Benz used by Ministers as well as selling of the controversial jet.
“We believe Malawians asked for action and we are implementing some of their concerns. The convoy is changed, if you can check some of the Mercedes Benzes are now packed at OPC, the jet is on sale and the President is currently undertaking funded trips only,” he said.
On Kwacha flotation and civil servants salary increase, Kunkuyu said “Those issues are broad and can’t be dealt with over night. Meanwhile, the civil servants are in talks with government on the same issue of increments. We have made good response so far but it’s up to the nation to decide how we should communicate our response”.
Dr. Jesse Kabwila, an academic and activist, who drove the whole 90 kilometres from the university city of Zomba to join the protests in Blantyre on January 17, accused the Banda administration of living beyond means.
With an election coming up in less 15 months, Malawi’s first female president – and Africa’s second – has her work cut out for her. She has a tough balancing act to perform: comply with the dictates of what her predecessor dismissed as the ‘Washington Consensus’ while at the same time making sure she does not have to answer to angry and hungry voters come May 2014.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :