Mzuzu vendors ‘cash-in’ on burnt market

Scores of vendors in Malawi’s northern city of Mzuzu have taken advantage of the philanthropic gesture from politicians and government to cash in from the assistance which continues to pour in as ‘condolence’ after fire razed some part of the Mzuzu main market last month.

Report indicates that some unaffected vendors have also pocketed thousands of Kwachas from the donations that followed. Reports are show that vendors’ executive committee members inflated the number of beneficiaries from about 150 to 546 to accommodate friends, relations and their wives.

Last month, fire thought to have originated from a brazier (Mbaula) in one of the makeshift restaurants razed the central part of Mzuzu market affecting over 150 vendors. The Mzuzu City Council estimated that it would need M110 million to construct the mainly wooden structures.

Vice President Khumbo Kachali set the ball rolling by donating MK 1 million to the victims of the incident. President Dr Joyce Banda followed suit through her foundation and with MK10 million.

Mzuzu vendors rebuilding their structures
Mzuzu vendors rebuilding their structures

Minister of Youths, Sports and Culture Enock Chakufwa Chihana through the Malawi Rural Development Fund (Mardef) dished grants disguised as loans of MK38 million.

While the ruling People’s Party through Provisional Chairperson Mzomera Ngwira donated MK1.5 million.

Malawi Congress party Veep Richard Msowoya followed suit with a paltry MK200,000 arguing that this was the highest amount paid since it came from MCP coffers and not from taxpayers.

However, Mzuzu Vendors Main Committee President Stanley Simbeye dismissed the allegations saying those spreading the rumours wanted to politicise the whole thing.

“We have recorded more than 1,600 vendors who needed compensation and many more are still knocking at my door. But so far only 310 vendors will receive Mardef loans because they only gave us 31 forms for 10 groups,” Simbeye said.

He said the money from Mardef is in form of loans although many vendors think its condolence money.

“All those that received money are genuine vendors who lost their goods either through fire or theft due to the ensuing melee,” said the vendors Simbeye.

Simbeye also quashed allegations of having inflated the number of affected vendors to accommodate relatives.

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