Police in Malawi are asking those who are taking part in Thursday’s demonstrations to ensure that they are following designated routes to avoid the wrath from the law enforcers.
Malawians are Thursday holding nationwide protests against rising cost of living brought by President Joyce Banda’s administration’s economic policies .
Consumer Association of Malawi has organized a march in the commercial hub of Blantyre to draw attention to an inflation rate that’s reached 33 percent and the kwacha’s collapse. Similar demonstrations are being planned in the capital Lilongwe and Mzuzu in the north.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Rhoda Manjolo told Nyasa Times on Wednesday that the police are ready to protect people and property and they are not expecting anyone to misbehave.
“We understand that these will be peaceful demonstrations. However the police are ready to act if some people will start misbehaving in order to protect the property and lives of the innocent people,” said Manjolo.
Manjolo declined to come clear when asked if live bullets will be used as was the case with July 20, 2011 protests where a number of people were shot dead, saying the use of any type of bullet is a security issue which cannot be discussed with the media.
Banda, Africa’s second sitting female president after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, succeeded Bingu wa Mutharika after his death in office in April. The former leader had alienated donors by refusing to devalue the kwacha, causing fuel and foreign-currency shortages, and cracking down on critics.
The Malawi leader said on Dec. 31 that while the currency’s depreciation had resulted in economic suffering for many, reversing the devaluation would be “suicidal.”
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde hailed Banda during a visit to Malawi this month, congratulating her “bold economic policies” and urging the government to “stay the course, while putting in place social protection programs to alleviate the impact of the adjustment measures on the poorest households.”