By Lusubilo Sichali, Nyasa Times
President Bingu wa Mutharika has invited to Sanjika Palace machete-wielding DPP Youth Cadets – a youth wing of the ruling party – were seen driving around the city of Blantyre symbolically sharpening their weapons against the tarmac and about 1000 selected vendors from various markets
Also invited to Sanjika are the thugs who set alight two vehicles belonging to an independent private radio station , Zodiak ahead of anti-government nationwide demonstration.
Each one of the President guest is expected to pocket K3000, translating into over K3 million, besides feasting and drinking.
Coordinator of the meeting to be held on Sunday, Louis Ngalande confirmed in an interview with Nyasa Timeson Saturday the Head of State would be meeting the vendors but could not be drawn into disclosing the agenda.
“Yes, it’s true, we have invited the vendors from all major markets including Bangwe, Limbe, Kachere, Zingwangwa, Ndirande, Chilomoni, Blantyre, Chirimba and others to have a chat with their leader. You know, most of the times, the president is in Lilongwe and we took advantage of his brief stay in Blantyre to meet with the vendors the various issues affecting them,” Ngalande, who is also the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) national youth director said.
However, a highly-placed source confided in Nyasa Times that the meeting will largely centre on the planned August 17 mass demonstrations arranged by a coalition of civil society organizations in Malawi. Similar demonstrations were held on July 20 where Malawians were called to take to the streets in protest against the deteriorating social, economic, political and governance situation in the country.
A petition to the Head of State outlining major areas of concerns was presented to Mutharika though district commission offices and he was given until August 17 to adequately respond to the concerns or risk a repeat of the July 20 mass action, which seems likely as the president has yet to.
“The president is damn scared; he is of the view that vendors form a bigger part of demonstrators in town and since they are also one the worst hit section of the society economically, he would like to appease them and seek their sympathy. I do not think it would work at this point in time because a lot of damage has already been done,” said the newly-registered People’s Party (PP) national director of publicity, Stephen Mwenye when Nyasa Times sought his comment.
He also claimed that Mutharika may have heard reports that Blantyre Central Market vendors had defected en masse from the DPP and other parties to the People’s Party and that he may be employing “public relations tactic to woo some of the back and to prevent more defections.”
PP is led by state vice president Joyce Banda, alongside Mzimba parliamentarian Khumbo Kachali were expelled from the DPP in December 2010 “for creating parallel party structures”, an accusation she has denied. She has recently crossed paths with Mutharika for calling for respect for people’s rights by allowing them to exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate against worsening economic situation and adoption of draconian laws, among other concerns.