Malawians brave rains in Mzuzu for peaceful anti-government demos

There were more government security agents than consumers at the much hyped nationwide demonstrations in Mzuzu against the country’s economic malaise that has seen daily increases of prices of goods and services apart from eroding peoples’ purchasing power and meagre savings.

Perhaps people had heeded calls from various stakeholders not to participate in the planned demonstrations or there did not want to be like victims of the famous July 20th 2011 demonstrations which turned violent and overzealous Police killed 20 unarmed protesters countrywide.

Members of the Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) Mzuzu Chapter numbered a paltry 40 against 150 for government security agents drawn from the army, national intelligence service and the Malawi Police service.

The small horde of marchers braved cold weather and incessant showers and trooped to the Mzuzu Civic centre via the recreation Centre road up to Mzuzu High Court round about… chanting anti government and austerity  songs.

Carring placards in Mzuzu
Mulungu reading the petition
Consumers hold demo in Mzuzu
A protestor carries a banner calling on President Banda to declare assets

Tatopa ndi Bonya” “Malilpilo akwele” “Pang’ono pang’no Katundu atsike” “Ichepe misokho”

Many wore black clothes and tied black bandanas, a symbol one of the organisers indicated that Malawian consumers were in the mourning period for the alleged harsh economic environment.

Ironically, some security agents who infiltrated the marchers also donned the protestors’ regalia and chanted along. They held aloft some placards written “No more suffering in silence “Ukavu wakoma mbayamwe mu Malawi” and “no more to Kwacha floatation” among others.

In the Mzuzu central Business District, there was a heavy presence of heavily armed Police, some in riot gear and a phalanx of plain clothed Cops although it was business as usual but there less people than usual.

The march started at around 9.11am the Mzuzu upper stadium via the Recreational centre road, New Apostolic church, Mzuzu High Court roundabout and then the Civic office where the Marchers read their five paged petition which they later presented to Mzuzu City Boss Richard Hara, who was flanked by senior Police officers.

Joseph Msenga  Mulungu, a member of CAMA Mzuzu Chapter read the petition on behalf of the protestors, who included a few vendors and cross border traders.

Hara did not respond after receiving the petition.

The protestors gave government two weeks to respond to concerns raised in the petition warning that failure to do so will another countrywide demonstration.

According to the petition, a copy Nyasa Times  obtained, CAMA faults government for adopting the floatation of the Kwacha.

“We strongly believe that floatation of the Kwacha should have been done only after certain conditions were achieved such as adequate foreign reserves. This is also support by the IMF definition of a flexible exchange rate system which recognises the necessity for the authorities to intervene in order to defend it against speculative attacks,” Mulungu said.

He said Malawi should have started by addressing the problem of perpetually precarious foreign reserve position before adopting the flexible or floating regime.

In the petition, CAMA also demanded the immediate sale of the presidential jet, reduction of the two Km long presidential convoy and sale of ministerial cars claiming they were a drain on the country’s meagre taxes.

“Corruption is now rampant and mostly by the Executive and other arms of government. We find corruption to be one of the key drivers of poverty in this country.

“Hence we demand the President and vice to declare their assets with immediate effect so as to bring confidence in the leadership,” Mulungu said.

CAMA also demanded an increase of salaries and wages for workers to cushion them from high commodity costs.

“We are also demanding that each Ministry should have one PS, the presence of more than one PS… is a drain on our tax payers money. We are also shocked with the continued executive arrogance that seems not to take advice and criticism. This has been displayed by the many comments that have been uttered by the President at various forums,” Mulungu said.

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