Malawi prominent rights groups have vowed to stage mass street protests against the administration of President Peter Mutharika if they fail to provide convincing answers for the economic turmoil facing the country.
The Kwacha currency continues to be weakening as it is trading at about 520 to the dollar, down from 410 in September.
Prices of goods and services have started rising. Private traders have increased the price for Malawi’s main food crop, maize. Recently, the immigration department tripled the cost of processing Malawi passports with 320 percent.
The Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority has attributed its recent 6 percent increase in the price of fuel to the kwacha’s depreciation.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development (Cedep) have called on Mutharika government to “stop punishing few hard working Malawians through punitive taxes and newly introduced fees such as for passport and other Immigration permits.”
“We demand nothing less than a thorough explanation on what is happening with our economy. The kwacha is falling, fuel prices have gone up, so too are basic commodities, and government has unreasonably increased passport fees and Immigration permits,” said CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo as quoted in Nation on Sunday.
He added: “How can you explain or justify an increment of a passport from K15 000 to K48 000? This is cruelty of the highest order and denying Malawians services they deserve. We demand a convincing explanation or we are ready to mobilise Malawians for protests.”
Cedep executive director Gift Trapence said Mutharika government “should not take citizens’ patience for naivety”, saying Malawians have a right to information.
“We have to know what is going on. Government has a lot of explaining to do,” he said.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Kondwani Nankhumwa said government has never hidden the fact that the nation is in dire state of the economy
Nankhuwa said “street protest may not resolve the problems”.
He said “economy issues are difficult to understand and if the dissemination of such information is not carefully handled, we may just end up scaring people.”
In its latest report, the country’s leading financial advisory firm, Nico Asset Managers, predicted the kwacha will continue to depreciate until February of next year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :