Chinese traders wanted out of Mzuzu: Vendors threaten unspecified action

A horde of disillusioned businesspersons in Mzuzu have ganged up with demands that they want all foreign traders, especially Chinese nationals owning retail shops, out on the basis that the latter are “frustrating” their businesses.

A man browses through pairs of Chinese made shoes in a shop, 20 June 2006 in the downtown area of  Ugandan capital Kampala, known for imports of Chinese made footwear. The Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabao, is currently on a seven-nation tour of Africa and arrives in Uganda on Friday 23rd June for a two-day visit to discuss bilateral cooperation and trade opportunities. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

A man browses through pairs of Chinese made shoes in a shop. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

A Malawian hawker sells food outside a Chinese owned shop.-REUTERS/Ed Cropley

A Malawian hawker sells food outside a Chinese owned shop.-REUTERS/Ed Cropley

The businesspersons, approximately over two hundred, say it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete with the foreigners as these, they claim, “choose to sell their goods at unbelievably low prices” and thereby “obstruct fair competition.”

Spokesperson of the traders who are presently to have themselves registered as a group, Osman Kapida, singled out the Chinese as their “worst thorn in the flesh.”

Kapida said that there is “a huge competition gap” that exists between the two sides.

“They don’t care when they are setting up prices because they really don’t care about losses. But we do because in our businesses we always have got bank loans to re-pay, and lending rates in the country are exorbitant,” said Kapida.

He pegged the current lending rates at forty nine to fifty per cent, and claimed for the foreign traders the rates can be “as low as one per cent.”

 Not Protected

Kapida blamed government for casting a blind eye on their predicament even despite the fact that they “know what is happening.”

He said it was not “unfortunate” that the Ministry of Industry and Trade was not taking action on the matter.

“We’re not protected,” he said. “We’re not, and it is frustrating.”

According to the business laws of Malawi, foreigners are not supposed to engage directly with customers in retail businesses but rather on wholesale.

Last year, Kapida claimed, they tried to petition government but the Ministry of Trade spokesperson at the time asked them “why they were complaining about the Chinese only.”

But Kapida told Nyasa Times that they did so because it is the Chinese’s way of doing businesses that “hurts most.

“Why can’t they do wholesale and let us by from them?” he queried.

 Unspecified Action

The grouping is since preparing a fresh petition with warning that should government not respond positively they will stage unspecified action.

“We will not do anything for now. But should we notice that government is in no mood to support us, we will let them know how frustrated we are,” warned Kapida.

In 2011, six Chinese shops were closed in Dedza because the owners were operating without permits.

The local merchants said they could not compete with the Chinese businesspersons who flooded the market with cheap products.

In 2012, businesspersons in Karonga expressed similar sentiments of the Chinese traders over the same. During the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the July 2011 anti-government protests, scores of people of Karonga blatantly said they had looted shops that belonged to the Chinese nationals because they “hate them.”

Later, 33 vendors signed a petition that was presented to the District Commissioner which claimed that the Chinese were “suffocating” their businesses.

Late president Bingu wa Mutharika, who initiated bilateral relations with China, always appealed to Malawians to be more positive of investment from Beijing, saying the Chinese government “has brought a lot of development in this country.”

Ministry of Industry and Trade officials could not immediately comment .

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To beautify and end jobless crisis its just better to have a China city somewhere in the country. That I believe will help our locked country having beautiful buildings and many more.

Winston msowoya
Mr.Charles,please get educated,Burundians are our fellow brothers and sisters we have the same blood and culture.You go to Burundi today,you have nowhere to eat or sleep,Burundians will keep you and will feed you without paying a single Kwacha.At the same time,you go to Beijing you have nowhere to sleep or eat,your place is a filthy prison before you are tortured and humiliated as a monkey,this is what they call us you fool.Mind you, Chinese are in Africa not to help build our economies,but ease their population growth which cannot cope up with a 2 billion plus people,to ease joblessness if… Read more »
# 22, the issue here is not about tribe (the Tumbuka) but about running a business. The man who is leading the Mzuzu market vendors in complaining about the Chinese traders is OSMAN KAPIDA and it is easy to note that he is definitely not Tumbuka & not from the Northern region. You may aalso wish to know that Mzuzu market, like most markets in the Northern region is ‘infested’ with Yao and Lomwe traders. Sadly, most of these traders lack basic education and business knowledge to run successful businessess. Most of them engage in the same line of business… Read more »
James kotoki

The people doing business in mzuzu are not atumbuka but alomwe .atumbuka work and they have no time for gain.

I support the wholesales Idea. Let locals retail, all foreigners wholesale. What the Chinese are doing is like farmer A plants a garden of 20000 thousand cabbage heads and decides to sell all alone at retail outlet. This tendacy will adversely affect and displace many small business who would have benefitted from farmer A. The Chinese are following their products from production to final consumption levels. Trully the government would have already acted some time ago. At the same time local businesses charge exorbitantly no wonder Chinese/foreigners attract more customers. We again need to change our business mind set and… Read more »

A group of failures from a failed state. Shame!!!!


Atumbuka inu. Can’t even do business. So you think the Chinese are only in mzuzu. When will you ever stop complaining. FOTSEKI

Francis Kaisi
To those that are criticizing the local traders to compete with foreign traders must know that they are bringing the argument without substance. Are you aware that the Chinese government empowers their citizens abroad with the non repayment, interest free start up capital for their business. How many Malawian traders have received such a grant from our government? What we hear is a loan with 50% repayment. How can such a person compete with the Chinese traders. Mziko lililonse amadandaula za ma ma Chinese. Vuto la a Malawi mungaphunzile maka umbuli suwumachoka m’mutu. Muka mapeleka mfundo zanu ndi kachizungu kogulaka… Read more »
We live in time where only the fittest survive. These allegations are precisely what fuelled the xenophobic attacks that saw many foreigners residing in South Africa being killed and many more dispersed. You will recall my previous comment that Malawi wants to emulate South African without considering the consequences. The main challenge with the locals is laziness to conduct adequate research in order to improve the viability of there business There’s another trend I have picked up in local merchants called the copy cat syndrome. this syndrome has destroyed many small scale businesses for a simple reason that, eventually there… Read more »

Useless Malawians, U pressurized Kamuzu to chase Indians away from focal trading points to cities only. What was left of the buildings the Indians Left?? And do you think your merchandise can fill the gap that will left when the Chinese leave? Mxiiiiiiiiiiii

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