By Chancy Namadzunda:
Hundreds of small scale business operators in Lilongwe on Friday demonstrated against failure by President Lazarus Chakwera to address their concerns and walk within his campaign promises.
The demonstration were organized jointly by the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) and Lilongwe Small Scale Business Operators.
According to CDEDI Executive Director Slyvester Namiwa, the demonstration follows government’s continued silence on their grievances among others the influx of illegal immigrants from China, Nigeria, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, Rwanda, Burundi, and Somalia who are illegally conducting businesses in the country and have taken up the last available economic opportunities for the locals and President Chakwera’s refusal to withdraw and apologise to the nation for using the word ‘NYANSI’ in reference to people his government is arresting, firing or suspending from the public service.
Recently, Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda overruled a decision to have all foreign nationals conducting businesses illegally in the city relocated to designated spaces.
The Lilongwe City Council made a resolution that foreigners plying their trade in town should relocate to their initial places.
Speaking at Lilongwe City Council offices where the petition was delivered, Namiwa condemned government for not considering Malawians’ welfare after failing to force foreign nationals leave small scale businesses to locals.
CDEDI wants government’s intervention on the ‘shambolic’ Affordable Input Program (AIP) which is taking away the dignity of the poor people, especially women who are sleeping at the selling depots and are being exposed to all sorts of sexual abuses, the failure by the Tonse Alliance government to address acute shortages of food across the country, which have hit hard the poor and the marginalized people and government’s selective application of justice by arresting people from one region and tribe, while sparing corrupt public officials from the Tonse Alliance partners, such as a Cabinet Minister, his advisor and other alliance partners involved in the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) fuel supply scandal;
The organization further condemns failure by President Chakwera to update Malawians on the Hotel bills saga at Crossroads involving his Chief of Staff and the Director of Finance at State House, failure to honour his promise to produce an expenditure report on the Independence Celebrations that were cancelled at the eleventh hour, the inhumane enforcement of tax and other regulations on Motorbike Kabanza operators.
Namiwa said the demonstrations will spill over to Mzuzu and Blantyre until president Chakwera’s administration moves into action.
The protesters have given the president seven days to act on 12 issues that have been tackled in the petition.