Malawi demos presser a charade: ‘Money exchanged hands’

The news conference which organizers of the January 17 nationwide consumers’ demonstrations held on Monday at Consumers Association of Malawi  (CAMA) offices  was staged to blindfold people from proving that they were paid to cancel the protests, Nyasa Times has established.

Nyasa Times reported on Saturday that the organisers have been bribed to cancel the protests.

Consumer rights watchdog is championing the January 17 demonstrations against government’s failure to address economic hardships facing Malawians due to reforms being undertaken by government.

But mystery surrounds whether the demonstrations will really take place considering the way organizers of the protests conducted themselves during the news conference which many journalists who attended described it as charade and complained for being taken for granted.

Kapito with Mdoka:  Staged presser

Drama started when CAMA’s project officer Mac Sightings Mdoka announced in his boss John Kapito’s presence that he is pulling out due to pressure from some politicians.  .

Sources close to the organizers told Nyasa Times that the briefing was pre-staged so that people should not know they have been palm-oiled  by  the ruling People’s Party to cancel the demonstrations. .

M’doka confessed he met with ruling party’s publicity secretary Hophmally Makande, but sharply denied having been bribed.

Malawi Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu denies the government has bribed organizers to suspend or cancel the January 17 protests.

But insiders told Nyasa Times that money has exchanged hands.

“What Mdoka was doing was something that was pre-arranged by those who were at the briefing including the few so called consumers who were loitering outside the press briefing room,” said one source.

They said the organizers met Sunday night to strategize on how best to approach the issues of cancelling without attracting anger from the consumers who may end up losing trust in the whole association.

“In fact Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) officials were told in advance that they should send their journalists to CAMA where some of the officials will be speaking against the protest. And it was Makande who went to MBC soon after meeting Mdoka on Wednesday at Phekani House in Blantyre,” the source added.

Mdoka told reporters he met Makande at Phekani House.

Nyasa Times understands that Mdoka -an acclaimed Malawi dramatist – offered to play the main actor in the “drama” by pretending that he is against his colleagues’ plans of proceeding with the protest.

“This was aimed to bring confusion in the whole issue so that journalists who would be available should think that the groups is split a pretext that Kapito and the company would use to cancel the demonstrations.

“But this has partly failed and the next move now is that they have agreed that none of organizers should show up at the starting point of the demonstrations so that those who will converge should find none to lead them. This is what they called constructive cancelling of the demonstrations,” said insiders.

This vindicates what Kapito said at the news conference that he may not be physically available during the demonstrations “but the fact is the consumers from all the walks of life will be on the streets.”

Kapito, who was suspiciously jovial throughout the briefing which was supposed to be a serious matter, was not surprised when Mdoka said he is against the demonstration and instead Kapito kept on patting him on the shoulder sometimes putting his hands around him teasing him as “Judas Iscariot” and accusing him of pocketing some money from politicians.

Meanwhile, the sources say drama is far from ending as CAMA’s boss has ‘fired’ Mdoka as the projects officer, a development which has been planned to be communicated to Malawians through a statement to be issued Wednesday.

“They want to make this as a testimony that they are not part of allegations that they have pocketed money through Mdoka to cancel the demonstrations. And Mdoka would resume duties once the people’s tempers who may be angered by the disorganization of the protests calm down. In another words this is a holiday for Mdoka for the job well done”.

However, Mdoka was reluctant to respond when Nyasa Times phoned him Monday evening to confirm his dismissal.  He only insisted on asking “who has told you?” before he cut the line.

Kapito asked Anti Corruption Bureau to investigate the corruption allegations.

Among several demands, Cama wants a reversal of the floatation of the kwacha; sale of the presidential jet and Mercedes Benz vehicles for ministers; reduction in the presidential convoy, minimising presidential and ministerial travel both locally and internationally, reducing the Cabinet; checking corruption and declaration of assets by the President and her Vice-President.

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