Malawi Police won’t halt January 17 demos: ’Kapito acting within the law’

Malawi Police Service will not interfere with massive protests against the government of President Joyce Banda which is being championed by Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) scheduled for January 17.

Cama is organising the demonstrations in protest against economic hardships people are facing, notably rising consumer and service prices in the wake of devaluation and floatation of the kwacha.

Police spokesman Rhoda Manjolo said cops will “tighten security” but won’t disrupt the protests if they go ahead.

The law enforcers have assured to protect property for some thugs who may want to take advantage of the situation to loot as it were during the last year’s anti Bingu wa Mutharika protests.

Demo organisers: Warns ruling party zealots not to cause violence

President Banda herself said she will not accept people holding peaceful demonstrations to be disrupted. saying it is their constitutional right.

“I can’t stop people from demonstrating but I believe they understand where we are coming from and the magnitude of the problems that we had in this country.

“I hope the organizers will also be able to tell whether we are trying our level best or not, and how long we told them it will take us to solve these problems,” the Malawi laeder said during a live  public discussion programme  hosted by a private broadcaster, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS),

President Banda argued that her government is doing its best to revive the economy and  pleaded for patience as it sorts out the mess created by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime under the late president Bingu wa Mutharika.

“I told the nation that they should expect some tangible changes in 18 months’ time because the problems that we inherited required time and we are doing our best within the stipulated period. The 18 months is not over and why should we not wait a bit to finish the period?”  said President Banda.

She however added: “But if some people think we are not doing enough, then let them march.”

Civil rights activist Billy Mayaya said on Thursday that Cama which is headed by John Kapito and organizers of the January 17 demonstrations “are acting within the law.”

He also noted what President Banda said on Zodiak live interview programme:

“The President acknowledged this fact on the Zodiak phone in programme by promising that the Government will not prevent them from taking place; therefore no amount of criticism about the timing and legitimacy of these planned demonstrations will change that fact,” wrote Mayaya on his Facebook timeline.

“Demonstrations take place in Malawi all the time in terms of fundraisers, big walks with people carrying placards. These are the ‘safe’ demonstrations which are allowed to go ahead because they don’t have that risk element of calling the government to account,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) has clarified that it is not against Cama’s demonstrations, but that it believes they should be the last resort.

When we had demonstrations last year, they were the last resort and all people were involved in its planning. Cama should have put their concerns on the table, which are indeed pertinent, for discussion. Then, we could have found a way forward, but surely not going to the streets,” said Mwakasungula after he donated various items to patients at Kaporo Health Centre and Chitemwano Orphanage in Karonga.

Meanwhile, the Kinsley Mabalani, spokesperson for the protest organizers has cautioned government, ruling party followers and other groups that are of the different view and planning to thwart the demonstrations not to cause violence.

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