As the clock ticks closer to January 13 anti-government demonstrations, members of Blantyre Vendors Association are calling upon the civil-society groups to cancel the street protests and give dialogue a chance.
Civil society organizations have planned to hold the demonstration next week to force Beautify Malawi Trust (BEAM) and Muhlakho wa Alomwe (MWA) to return money they obtained from National Aids Commission (NAC).
NAC reportedly provided the funds to the BEAM and MWA which do not have any HIV/AIDS interventions programs to warrant such financial support.
But speaking to journalists in Blantyre, spokesperson of the concerned Blantyre vendors, Joy Mkweteza, who is also the executive Director for Centre for Development Association (CEDA) said vendors in Blantyre do not see convincing reasons to hold such demonstrations.
Mkweteza said his organization has observed that the reason behind the demos is to create an impression that NAC gave money to BEAM and MWA without following the stipulated procedures.
“We, vendors have observed in disbelief unbecoming behavior of the civil society organization of Lilongwe to create an impression that NAC erred to give money to BEAM and Mulhakho wa Alomwe,” Mkweteza said.
Mkweteza said the vendors understand that NAC paid K3 million for advertising space and K2 million for tables during BEAM fund raising dinner and dance.
“At Mulhakho wa Alomwe cultural festival, NAC did not give to the grouping but it used the money amounting to K9.4 million for traditional leaders transport and accommodation. NAC participated and invited traditional leaders to this cultural festival to provide them with HIV/AIDS information, so in return they would spread the messages to their subjects. Hence we find it laughable for the civil society organizations of Lilongwe to threaten to hold demonstrations next week,” he explained.
He said although it is a constitutional right to hold demonstrations but the intention of holding the planned demonstrations questionable.
Mkweteza said previous demonstrations have ended up with loss of lives and properties therefore called upon government to look into the wellfare of the vendors and provide them with enough security.
“We have seen in the past organizers use vendors, students and members of youth organizations, taking advantage of their ignorance and destitute they become violent and may got injured or killed in the process. We therefore assuring government that vendors of Blantyre are not taking part in unnecessary demonstration like this one,” Mkweteza told journalists.
Mkweteza however appealed to civil society organizations to cancel the January 13 demos and engage NAC, BEAM and Mulhakho wa Alomwe in a round table discussion to unpack the truth.
The demonstrations spokesman Timothy Mtambo said protests will be peaceful and that police have been informed to ensure there is safety.
Mtambo said the demo’s are part of freedom of expression and assembly, which are human rights to be exercised by the people taking part.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :