Malawi demos: It is CAMA protesting, nobody else

We have noted with utter dismay and disgust that as January 17, a day  Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) has designated to protest against the economic malaise brought about by the PP administration’s management of the economy approaches, there is a growing queue of individuals and organisations eager to proclaim whether they will take part in the demonstration or not and becoming champions of dialogue all of a sudden.

They range from youth groups or individuals openly associated with the PP government to renowned civil society organisations and some political parties.

To begin with, we at Nyasa Times appreciate and accept that the Constitution of Malawi guarantees freedom of expression on matters of the state but it is the same document that also allows any citizen to protest against any government policy that he or she feels is wrong and impinges of his/her enjoyment of any rights, including economic ones.

At the moment the whole country is aware that it is CAMA only that wants to protest against what it considers government’s weakness in adopting wholesale IMF’s policies in managing the local currency which is having excruciating effects on the lives of the poor as prices of essential commodities and services are rising on daily basis.

It is, therefore, gullibility of the highest order for any other organisation or individuals to take that front row, holding press conferences on what CAMA intends to do.

Our view here at Nyasa Times is that this is not necessary as the consumer body’s right to demonstrate does not depend on any organisation or individual for that matter to give it a green-light to go ahead or not. It is already guaranteed in the Constitution.

If somebody or some organisation has a contrary stand to CAMA’s position, that is fine and only fair. In fact, that is the reason why they are not taking part in the protest in the first place. But it cannot be a justification to stop CAMA from protesting as a Malawian body standing for the right of consumers.

Those that need reminding must be reminded that this is not the first time for CAMA to go on the streets. A couple of years ago John Kapito and a few band of followers took to the streets one Friday afternoon to protest against what they termed exorbitant bank charges. They made their point and life went on.

There is nothing special this time. But we are not naïve not to know that at times like these it is always tempting for certain individuals and organisations to endear themselves to the PP ruling class for that contract or that job by making their opinion known about the CAMA protest.

Yet it must he said that using the right of others to achieve personal goals is called greed of the highest order.

We know who wants to protest on January 17 and why. Whether the reasons are trivial to others is immaterial.

CAMA must be left alone to peacefully exercise and enjoy its constitutional right to demonstrate against what it considers bad economic governance. Other people’s opinions do not matter.

By the way, let demonstrations be the last resort.

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