Malawians of all walks of life today pooled onto the streets of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mulanje to deliver a petition to President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera over what they say are punitive taxes and levies basic commodities and services.
A local human rights watchdog, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI), mobilized the citizens in a last ditch attempt to force the Tonse Alliance government to remove the taxes and levies, which are purportedly weighing down the already vulnerable and poor Malawians.
The protesters delivered a petition to the authorities at Lilongwe City Council, Blantyre City Council and Mulanje District Council, who are expected to forward it to President Chakwera.
Apart from the usual demand for the removal of the 16.5 percent value added tax (VAT) on cooking oil, the protesters also want Chakwera to apologize for allegedly telling them and the whole world that Malawi had K1 billion of the tax payers’ money lying idle in the government’s coffers when people were reportedly dying due to lack of oxygen in the country’s major referral hospitals, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
They are also asking Chakwera to institute a team that should review the tax policies on essential products and services, in a bid to come up with tax laws that create an enabling environment for the local industry to flourish.
“The unjustifiable levies on fuel must be scrapped off from the pump prices; the government should remove taxes from essential services such as water and electricity,” reads part of the petition delivered after the march.
The demonstrators also called upon the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to stop shielding the mobile phone operators who are allegedly charging exorbitantly for mobile phone calls and data, among others.
They further tasked the communications regulator to strictly monitor the quality of services being rendered by such operators, which are mostly substandard, according to the petition.
Additionally, the protesters have challenged Chakwera to exonerate himself, some of his cabinet ministers and top State House officials from accusations bordering on nepotism and favouritism, which former parliamentarian from Kasungu West, Alex Major of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), levelled against him.
“Just like the Public Relations (PR) stunt that has been pulled on the Covid-19 audited report, President Chakwera should do likewise by making public the reports on the 6th July independence celebrations expenses; the State House Cross roads hotel accommodation scandal; and the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) fuel saga,” concludes the petition.
Speaking in an interview after the protest, CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa said he was happy with the turnout of the people during the demonstrations.
Namiwa emphasized that he was not much worried about the numbers of the people, but rather to ensure that the message is delivered to the relevant authorities.
“CDEDI would like to remind Dr. Chakwera that political powers accorded to him under section 12 of the Republican Constitution derive from the people of Malawi, and the one exercising such powers does so on sustained trust. It is, therefore, our expectation that the President will act on these issues in earnest,” he said.
CDEDI is a non-partisan, nongovernmental organization that was established in a quest to attain a well-informed and organized citizenry that can ably demand their social and economic rights at the same time hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.
Among many others CDEDI aims at sensitizing the masses on matters of national importance, inculcate the spirit of a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, political and religious affiliations; provide civic education on people’s rights and responsibilities in economic independence and contribution towards national development and lobbying for the electoral law reforms.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :