A wave of protests, some of them violent, has hit some parts of the country as informal business sector players, most of them vendors, took to the streets to demonstrate against the 21-day lockdown to tackle spread of coronavirus.
There were protests in Mangochi, Blantyre, Mzuzu, Kasungu, Karonga, and Zomba.
In Kasungu, police used teargas to disperse violent protesters who were attacking shops at the business square at the Boma.
They started attacking the shops after some of them had presented a petition to the district commissioner, protesting against the lockdown which they said will have a negative impact on their businesses.
They carried tree branches and sang anti-government songs.
In Karonga, the protests started at Karonga Freedom Park and ended in the main market as the vendors expressed anger over the lockdown which they said would cut off their lifeline.
In Zomba, the vendors closed the main market and marched to Civic offices where they said they wanted to get clarification on the council decision to close down the main market during the lockdown.
In Ndirande, scores of people marched from the populated Blantyre township to council offices where they presented their petition.
In eastern lakeshore district of Mangochi, traders and women marched to the District Commissioner’s office carrying placards of protests and singing anti-lockdown songs, saying it will only make them starve to death.
The protesters’ leader Madalitso Kalipide told journalists that much as they understood that the lockdown was meant to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, they found the measure too harsh for their survival.
“We want government to provide us with upkeep money to survive on during the 21 days because we cannot afford to stay home without food,” said Kalipinde.
He added: “Most of us rely on daily earnings to provide for our families and without going out to sell our merchandise we cannot survive.”
However, at the DC’s office the protesters were advised to direct their petition to the Mangochi Town Council under whose jurisdiction businesses around the Boma fall.
Mangochi Town Council Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Abubakar Nkhoma, said his office had received the petition through the Mangochi police and that he would forward it to the appropriate authorities.
“We have received the petition and we will forward it to the Office of the President and Cabinet through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development,” Nkhoma told the media.
Meanwhile, following recent measures put in place by government through the Special Committee on Coronavirus, all bars and restaurants at the Boma are closed while all public offices, markets, shops and other busy places are urged to follow stipulated measures such as hand washing and social distancing.
Minister of Information and government spokesperson Mark Botomani said the government was aware of the protests.
“We are engaging them to see how best we can handle the situation,” he said.
The country has 16 cases of coronavirus and lost two people due to the disease.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :