Vendors challenge Lilongwe Council on relocation

Vendors have challenged Lilongwe city council that they will not respect the seven-day ultimatum to leave the streets and relocate to the designated flea markets.

The City Council in conjunction with the chairman of Lilongwe Vendors Association Chairperson Steven Malunga gave traders a seven-day ultimatum to leave the streets.

But the Lilongwe street vendors have issued a letter challenging the council’s decision, claiming that they will not leave because the streets it’s where they earn a living.

Vending in Lilongwe

The letter circulated in the streets of Lilongwe, which t the streets vendors are defiant that will not leave the streets come Monday, claiming government has palm oiled some of the traders to  advance the agenda of forcing them out of the streets.

“Us the Lilongwe streets vendors, the caller boys (oyitanila ma min bus) and the manual workers (aganyu) we have agreed not to vacate the streets or abandoning our work because this is where we earn money. We want to warn all those who have been given a sweetener together with Steven Malunga claiming to be vendor’s chairman that he is not our chair man but he is a DPP chairman,” reads part of the letter.

“We don’t confront anybody but if someone attacks us we respond and he must realize the consequences of this. We will die for our country like Gadaf (Libyan leader), and we will go by his words peace is redeemed with blood. (Ife sitiyamba munthu bola mukadzatiyamba mudzayimalize mukadzasiya ikathela komweko kogona kwanu, ife tifela dziko lathu ngati Gadaf potengera mawu ake mtendele amawugula ndi mwazi.

When interviewed to comment on the issue Lilongwe free market vendors spokesperson Boniface Chimkanda expressed ignorance about the letter and claimed that those who have done it are thieves.

“First of all I can say that I don’t know this letter and who has written it. We don’t know who has done it, what we know it’s that those who are clinging to stay in the streets are not vendors, these are thieves; vendors are always at the market selling their goods. That’s why us and the police we want to get lid of these thieves.”

“We are doing this following some barbaric behaviours which has been happening in our streets women being striped, thieving. We want to give room to the police to do their job cleanly so that we can have these criminals get rid of four streets, “he said

When questioned if they would be space in the flea market to accommodate all the street vendors to do their business, Chimkanda said that there is enough space.

On the issue of whether Malunga is indeed vendors chairman or a DPP functionary as some of the street vendors put it, Chimkanda said Malunga was the legitimate leader of the vendors.

Lilongwe street vendors have been in the news for two serious incidents this month. First, they engaged riot police in running battles on January 5th after authorities tried to impound their goods for failing to go to the designated places.

And recently they were reported to have stripped woman wearing trousers, miniskirts and leggings.

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