Kapito accused of getting bribes to cancel Jan 17 Malawi demos

Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) executive director John Kapito has been accused of taking bribes from the ruling People’s Party (PP) to cancel the January 17 demonstration against the rising cost of living in Malawi, impeccable sources have  tipped Nyasa Times.

But Kapito says no amount of money can stop him.

Nyasa Times sources claim the organisers are planning to announce the cancellation of the demos during a news conference planned for Sunday at CAMA’s head offices in the commercial capital Blantyre .

The sources told us on Saturday that CAMA officials have received the money from the ruling People‘s Party (PP) officials to stop the march.

Kapito: Protests going on

“The PP’s publicity secretary Hophmally Makande has been meeting CAMA’s project officer Mac Sightings Mdoka who has been representing Kapito at various places. On Thursday the two met at Phekani house in the commercial capital Blantyre around 10 am. But some meetings have been held at CAMA offices,” said the sources.

The sources said as a result CAMA officials are planning to hold a news conference on Sunday on the cancellation of the protests on the basis that people should first be civic educated on how to conduct themselves during demonstrations to avoid a replica of July 20, 2011 demonstrations where people’s lives were lost and property destroyed.

But Kapito insisted on Saturday that he has not been bribed to cancel the demonstrations, saying no amount of money can address the problems consumers are demonstrating against.

He challenged: “No amount of money can address the problem that my mothers and fathers are facing in rural areas. No amount of money can answer the problem the ordinary workers are getting now because they are getting small salaries that cannot buy anything. If they give me money, have they given all the 12 million Malawi consumers?  You can give me money as John Kapito but does that money go to Malawians?”

But Kapito confirmed to hold a  new conference on the demonstrations.

“The press conference is just to tell you how we are going to move, so we want to inform the media about this, not tomorrow, but it will be on  Monday at CAMA offices from 9am,” said Kapito.

Makande also denied bribing CAMA officials, saying the last time he met Kapito was in 2011.

“I have never met Kapito or any CAMA official because of late I have been to floods affected areas on assignment from the President, like Phalombe, so I had no time of meeting anyone else. You can even go to Airtel and Telecom and check if I have ever spoken to Kapito or Kapitoto me,” said Makande.

But in an interview Mdoka contradicted Makande, saying the two met on Thursday in Blantyre but on personal business.

“We were not discussing anything concerning the demonstrations because we don’t want politicians to be involved in this.  Our meeting was on personal business,” said Mdoka.

On the plans to cancel the demonstrations, Mdoka said the board is yet to meet to decide on this.

“In fact, we haven’t met to formalize the cancellation of demonstrations but we are finalizing the modalities on how we are going to do the demonstrations. If it is question of cancelling the activity, we should have basis on why we are cancelling it but not because of politicians’ interference,” said Mdoka.

Mdoka said they have been meeting the police and Blantyre city council officials on the matter.

“We had a meeting with police yesterday and we had a meeting with city authorities yesterday and they were asking us to provide civic education to the people to ensure that the communities are well informed on how best they should understand the demonstration itself.

“The mentality of the demonstrations in people’s mind is that the demonstrations are about killing people destroying people’s propery, so we are requested to provide civic education first,” said Mdoka.

Government spokesman Moses Kunkuyu told VOA: “Buying people off their plans to exercise their democratic rights is an infringement on the law itself. We cannot stop them by bribing them, no.”

Meanwhile, some members of the organising committee of the January 17 consumer protests, including spokesperson Kingsley Mabalani, have pulled out, saying they want to give dialogue with government a chance.

Cama is championing the January 17 demonstrations against government’s failure to address the current economic challenges.

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