Poly students protest over allowances: Clash with Malawi Police

Polytechnic students in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre fought running battles with riot police on Monday morning after a protest demanding increment of their university upkeep allowances turned violent

Armed police rushed to disrupt a protest the scholars were staging in Masauko Chipembere Highway demanding an increment on their monthly meal and upkeep allowance from K40, 000 to around K55, 000 per student, arguing the current allocation is not keeping pace with the economic situation Malawi is experiencing.

On the other hand, parallel programme students are demanding reduction of their yearly fees, arguing the amount the college, a constituency of University of Malawi, is currently charging is excessive. Parallel programme student pays K250, 000 per year.

Despite negotiations going between the students’ representatives and the college’s administration, the irate scholars took to the Chipembere Highway, barricading roads while stoning vehicles in the process.

Poly in a state of emergency
Poly in a state of emergency

Police rushed in their Mobile Force combat vehicles known as Nyala (zimbaula) to disrupt the protests by firing teargas to disperse the angry students who in turn hit back by throwing stones and chanting anti-government songs, creating tension in the Highway.

Chipembere Highway was almost deserted with only armed police officers in their combat regalia who are trying to control the situation as teargas spread all over affecting nearby shops, offices and passersby.

In an interview with one of the college administration officials, the negotiations were disrupted by the protests and will only resume once the situation has normalized.

And some of the students told Nyasa Times that based on the current economic situation; the monthly allowances are not enough to meet their basic needs due to ever-increasing prices of goods.

“It’s a known fact, the money is not enough. The administration knows that but they seem not to care. Last year we had to protest as well for them to listen to our concerns. Maybe it’s just a trend,” complained one of the students.

Last year the students also protested demanding an increment in the allowances. In their proposal, the students wanted a residential scholar to be given K30, 000 while non-residential K40, 000 per month.

According to the students, the economic hardship has led to an upsurge in theft around the campus.

Meanwhile, tension is still high in the Highway as police are still in patrol, dispersing the irate students.

The students challenge that they would keep on demonstrating until they got what they wanted. But police said they were prepared for more trouble and would be maintaining a presence on campus.

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