The stunt by Mzuzu Vendors Association (MVA) that they would not participate in the April 27 demonstrations revolving the K4 billion scam flopped as people of Mzuzu turned up in huge numbers to air out their frustrations.
Thousands of protesters led by Youth and Society (YAS) executive director, Charles Kajoloweka, punctuated the streets of Mzuzu as they chanted, jeered and sang songs that unleashed their frustrations on the government.
Most songs concentrated on the fact that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had failed them to address various socio-economic challenges affecting the country.
“Mankhwala muvipatala tilije, vyose tikudalira madona! Mukwiba kale CDF, sono mwati mwibeso K4 billion, mwabankhungu imwe timalanenge namwe [We don’t have drugs in hospitals, and we mostly depend on donors to help us. You are already stealing Constituency Development Fund-CDF, and now you want to steal K4 billion, you thieves! We will deal with you!],” they chanted in Chitumbuka.
A walk of just two-kilometres from Katoto Primary School to civic offices took the ‘red sea’ almost two hours, as they made stopovers at each and every institution to make their concerns known.
For instance, at Mzuzu Clock Tower, the protesters sad down, and symbolically cried over government’s handling of the K4 billion payout to Members of Parliament.
In an interview, after the petition was delivered at the Mzuzu Civic Offices where it was received by the city’s CEO Macloud Kadammanja, Kajoloweka described the moment as “our undivided commitment to the accountability struggle.”
He told Nyasa Times: “I’m overwhelmed that Malawians and the people of Mzuzu came to express their displeasure in large numbers. This shows that they are immensely dissatisfied with the happenings in this country.”
Kajoloweka asked the protesters to turn up again if they were asked to participate in a similar cause.
The petition presented concludes by giving Mutharika—presently in the United Kingdom—90 days to work on the ten-point demands, or he would be asked to step down.
Kajoloweka sais people across the country used Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) as a mouthpiece to deliver their grievances.
“People across the country must understand that we, as CSOs, just came in to help a number of people who have various grievances against some decisions made by government.
“As CSOs, we are happy that we have delivered those grievances to government and we hope attention will be given to them,” he said.
Among the grievances that the CSOs presented to government include the immediate dismissal of Finance and Local Government Ministers, Goodall Gondwe and Kondwani Nankhumwa, respectively, for their roles in the controversial K4 billion allocation to members of parliament.
The demonstrators are demanding the withdrawal of government’s appointment of Rodney Jose as Acting Inspector General of Police for his alleged role in the murder of former University of Malawi student, Robert Chasowa.
They shouted: “A Police, munapha Chasowa, a police, ndinu akupha! Jose zikumukhudza izi! Lero musatiombelenso ngati 20 July, kapena salary yanu imakwana?
[The police killed Chasowa, you are murderers! Jose is involved in this we know. Today don’t even dare to shoot at us just like you did during the July 20 2011 demonstrations. Maybe you are happy with your meagre salaries?]”
As the protesters shouted, some police officers could be seen smiling at the protesters.
A prayer by youth activist Wazamazama Katatu hyped the protest when wcalled Mutharika’s government a failure, and that it has rendered a deaf ear to people’s concerns.
“Dear God, we are gathered here because of this government which does not listen, we have so many problems, that it seems they don’t have any solutions to these challenges. Please help us God as we deliver this petition so that we are answered,” he prayed.
In Rumphi, protestors carried anti-government placards which read: APM Must Step Down, Peter Stop Nepotism, Mulamu Mwakula, Escom + Corruption= Blackouts, DPP Stop Raping DPP, among others.
Anglican priest, Father John Welano, who chaired the demonstrations’ organising committee in the district read the petition and presented it to Rumphi district commissioner (DC) representative Allan Chitete.
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