Business came to a standstill at Mchinji Boma in the early hours of today when hundreds of protesters led by Mchinji businessmen marched and delivered a petition to the council’s secretariat on what they claim is abuse of funds by council secretariat.
The protest which started with a peaceful march from the business center turned violent after some protesters closed the main road and burned tyres rendering the Lilongwe-Mchinji M12 road impassable.
Some protesters pelted stones at vehicles while most shops remained closed as police fired teargas at the protesters.
Chairperson of Mchinji Market Wilson Maluwa told Mana they decided to march against the council for not involving the community in some of the development projects the council is undertaking.
“We feel there is abuse of resources at the council. Many projects which started such as the stadium, the street lights, the slaughter house, council rest house and the taxi port have all stalled and we want the council secretariat to tell us what happened to the development funds,” Maluwa said.
Maluwa said his committee has been trying to involve the secretariat but they have not been provided with information.
The protesters want some of the council heads removed from the office especially from accounts office, public works, lands office and the agriculture division within seven days.
One of the councilors who joined the march Nathan Dhlamini said he decided to join the march to show solidarity and show the secretariat that Mchinji residents are tired of being taken for granted.
Mchinji Officer In-charge Maximas Bakali said his office has managed to calm the situation.
“We have managed to arrest some people who we think are just criminals who wanted to take advantage of the situation and loot the shops,” he said.
Efforts to talk to the council’s officials proved futile as the District Commissioner Richard Hara was not available and the District Administration Officer Pickford Manyungwa who received the petition on behalf of the council refused to be interviewed.
Mchinji received K107 million ($146 575) for development fund and council planned to renovate the council’s guest house, street lights and rehabilitation of the Mchinji Market among other projects.