Mwanza residents threaten to march against Crown Chickens’ ban

Scores of enraged residents at Mwanza Boma have threatened to demonstrate and camp at the District Commissioner’s offices following government’s decision to ban Crown Agro Industries from selling its cheap chickens in the district.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry gave Crown Chickens a stop order from selling its chickens in the district after members of Mwanza Poultry Club, who sell their chickens at K2 000 each, lodged a complaint to government against the company’s price of K1 450 per live chicken.

The local traders want Crown Chickens to also adjust its prices to K2 000 or stop carrying out business in the district. The local poultry farmers went on to petition government over the issue forcing it to call for a consultative stakeholders meeting.

Crown Agro Industries were stopped from selling their chickens in the district during the said meeting that took place at Mwanza District Commissioner’s office on Wednesday, October 23, and chaired by Director of Trade, Christina Zakeyo Chatima.

Crown Chickens workers pose with the chickens

Crown Chickens workers pose with the chickens

Also in attendance at the meeting were Chatima’s deputy, Charity Musonza, Mwanza Police Station Officer, Ellenita Majamanda and representative of the District Commissioner, Edgar Chihana, who is the district’s Director of Planning and Development (DPD).

Speaking to Nyasa Times, the residents said it was unfortunate that government decided to ban a company for selling its product at cheaper prices in order to please local traders who charge the already resource-strained citizens exorbitantly.

One restaurant owner speaking on condition of anonymity said they were mobilising to see how best to conduct a peaceful demonstration.

“We have noted with concern that government has limped to the demands of the local chicken traders at the peril of scores of Mwanza citizens. It is for this reason that we would want to camp at the DC’s office to force government rescind its decision,” explained the business man.

He, however, wondered why government came up with such a decision without regard to the country’s Competition and Fair Trading Act of 1998 which calls for fair trading in all market segments.

According to Sections 32 (1) and 34 (1) b of the  Competition and Fair Trading Act, Cap 48:09 of the laws of Malawi, government contravened the law by banning Crown Chickens from selling their chickens in the district because the Act gives the company powers to set its own prices based on its production costs.

The businessman added that over 200 people have already shown willingness to take part in the demonstrations and vigil.

“What we are saying is that should Crown Chickens not resume bringing their chickens here, we will march and camp at the DC’s office against their illegal decision,” he said.

 

“How can a few greedy traders punish all people at Mwanza just because they want to be reaping from us? K2 000 [for each chicken] is a lot of money and who would want to miss such a chance to buy cheaper chickens which are more than K500 less?” he queried.

According to the planners of the demonstration, they want the DC’s office and the police to protect the interests of the majority of people in the district.

When contacted on her mobile phone to comment on the matter, the Director of Trade (Chatima) said she was attending a meeting in Mangochi and would call back. She never did.

And at the time of publication, the director of trade had not yet responded to an email questionnaire sent to her some days ago.

Mwanza District Commissioner, Gift Raponzo, was reportedly out of office but an official from his office, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Nyasa Times government did not ban Crown Chickens but only told them to temporarily stop selling their chickens in the district while investigations into the hostility were being conducted.

But Crown Chickens General Manager, Christopher Robin Peck, said in a separate interview his company was not ready to adjust their set price just to thrill the local traders.

“We are set to work with the local traders in any better way but we would not be forced to raise our prices just to make them happy because we do not want to deny the less privileged citizens of Mwanza Boma, who cannot afford to part away with K2000 for a chicken, access to cheaper food,” he said.

Since the arrival of Mota Engil Construction Company in the district (constructors of a railway line), life has reportedly become very expensive with prices of every basic need soaring thereby inflicting more economic pains on ordinary citizens.

Crown Chickens produce about 22 000 chickens and 25 000 eggs for sale on a weekly basis with a tray of eggs (30) going at K1 600.

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