Mzuzu vendors apologise for ‘stripping’ women

Vendors in Mzuzu took turns to offer their apologises to government and President Bingu wa Mutharika in particular for incidences where women found wearing trousers,  miniskirts or leggings in this northern city were stripped in the streets this week by a gang of unemployed youths and sidewalk vendors.

The vendors made it clear that their apologies did not mean that they were the perpetrators of such barbaric acts but that they wanted to clear their name.

The vendors, drawn from all markets in Mzuzu, said this through their leaders at Katoto Secondary on Sunday during a meeting called by the Ministry of Youth Development and Welfare but attended by some DPP MPs and National Campaign Director Dr Ken Zikhale Ng’oma.

Vendor's apology: Witness Nkhoma

Several times the meeting resembled a DPP rally intermittently punctuated by songs from Amayi a Bingu or the DPP Cadets although vendors from different political parties were present.

Except for the vendors, everybody who spoke started with the infamous ‘DPP Woyeee!! Or President Bingu wa Mutharika Woyeee!!

Witness Nkhoma said it is disappointing that vendors are the easy scapegoat.

“We got blamed for the July 20th, 2011 nationwide demonstration, looting and arson; we are also getting the heat for the current fuel and maize shortage because of allegations of hoarding. And if they are problems with Tobacco Leaf quality at the Auction Floors, it’s us who get the blame. Yet the real culprits are known,” said Nkhoma.

Minister of Youth Development and Welfare Simon Vuwa Kaunda justified his presence saying most vendors in Malawi were youths between the ages of 16 – 35.

“President Bingu wa Mutharika is very disappointed with what happened and is asking vendors to be the eyes of government so that the culprits should be arrested. Chondi Chondi lest have the responsibility as Youths to protect women and girls,” Kaunda said.

He said if vendors fail to do the protection their businesses and livelihoods will suffer as women have started a campaign to boycott their goods.

“Seventy percent of your customers are women hence the repercussions of ignoring this plea have grave consequences,” Kaunda said.

Taboo

DPP National Campaign Director Dr Ken Zikhale Ng’oma asked the vendors to protect their name.

“Northerners are known for their high respect for women therefore stripping women is a taboo. What happened to our culture?” he queried.

Ng’oma also asked vendors to be vigilant so that they arrest the culprits and take them to the police.

“Are you going to stand idle while our women and girls are being harassed and stripped? You need to be disciplined and don’t copy things from other districts,” he said.

Mzuzu vendors at the meeting

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