Malawi minister organize beer parties for vendors to shun Jan 17 demo

In a bid to entice vendors in the northern region to shun the January 17 consumer protests, Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture has organised beer parties for vendors in the region on the said date.

Chihana admitted on public radio that he had met vendors in Karonga, Rumphi and Mzuzu and had implored them not to join or participate in the demonstrations.

The minister allegedly gave youths at the Mzuzu Youth Centre MK 100,000 for a beer party they should hold on the day instead of participating in the demonstrations.

Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) is championing the January 17 demonstrations against government’s failure to address the current economic challenges.

Simbeye: We are not part of the protests

Vendors who spoke to Nyasa Times said Chihana informed them the money was coming from State House.

Mzuzu Vendors President Stanley Simbeye said they are not part of the January 17 demonstrations.

“Everybody knows that things are not fine economically and as vendors we know that very well because our sales are dwindling by the day. But demonstrations are not going o solve anything,”  he said.

The Association’s vice president Tomato Mangwe told Nyasa  Times that vendors  did not want to be associated or participate in demonstrations,  saying they are always used as a scapegoat when things go wrong.

“During the July 20th 2011 demonstrations Vendors were blamed for the chaos, plunder and vandalism that took place. And when some misguided people stripped naked some women, the blame as usual came to vendors,” Mangwe said.

Chairperson of the new Clothes section Witness Nkhoma said although CAMA has a right to demonstrate, the vendors on the other side have also a right to enjoy economic activity and will not be in the streets protesting, saying “no one should infringe on each other’s right”

And the youth   coming under the Rumphi youth network banner, have said they will not participate in demonstrations and called for dialogue.

Executive Director for Roscher youth Development centre Moir Walita said demonstrations, much as it is a constitutional right , it will bring more harm than good to the country’s already fragile economy.

Kanyerere Youth organization Executive Director Jailos Kanyondo said much as they are aware of the economic hardships that the country is going through, it is important to give dialogue a chance instead of just rushing on the streets to demonstration.

But CAMA boss John Kapito said vendors were not the right authority to tell them what to do.

“What mandate do they have? After all these are the people bearing the brunt of the country’s economic downturn. They should be the last to be [corrupted],” Kapito told Nyasa  Times.

Kapito said  he does not see the logic and sense in organizing a beer party for the vendors when many Malawians can hardly afford a meal.

CAMA- which  has organised the demonstrations in protest at the economic hardships Malawians are facing as a result of the devaluation of the kwacha –  have scheduled to start their Mzuzu demonstrations at the Matabwa market near Mzuzu Airport.

Rumphi youths leaders during the news conference to denounce demo

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