Blantyre City Council blocks demonstrations, demands K9 million


By Jameson Chauluka & Feston Malekezo:

Blantyre City Council (BCC) has said it would only give Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) permission to hold demonstrations today and tomorrow if the coalition pays K9 million to cater for damages caused during the June 20 2019 protests.

A letter, dated July 3 2019 signed by a Mr Matandika on behalf of BBC Chief Executive Officer Alfred Chanza, says BBC wants HRDC to assure them that they would manage traffic during the demonstrations.


“Please find the total value [of property] that was damaged from the Blantyre Police which, as you will find out, include property of Blantyre City Council worth more than K9,455,000 as the memorandum hereto attached shows,” the letter reads.

HRDC has organised the protests to push for Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah’s resignation over the way the commission handled the May 21 Tripartite Elections However, HRDC Southern Region Chapter Chairperson, Masauko Thawe, said, despite BCC’s stance, they would go ahead with the demonstrations from Kamuzu Stadium through Masauko Chipembere Highway to BCC offices.

“We are, however, going ahead with the demos because we don’t need to seek permission from anyone to demonstrate. In fact, we only notified them and not necessarily sought permission,” he said.


The demonstrations will take place in 11 districts and cities, including Lilongwe and Mzuzu, where spot checks yesterday found shop owners intensifying security by erecting metal bars.

There was tension as most shops were packed by shoppers who fear that business might come to a standstill today.

“Learning from the June 20 demonstrations, most shops were closed and I thought it wise to buy all my necessities for this weekend. We should be mindful of the July 6 holiday. So, technically, businesses will resume on Tuesday,” said Ruth Nyirenda from Chibavi Township in Mzuzu.

Another Mzuzu resident Gift Mdala fears for his clothes’ shop; hence, Wednesday welders were busy putting up a metal door at his shop.

A statement issued on Monday, signed by HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo, says the protesters will hold vigils in Blantyre and Lilongwe while in Mzuzu and Zomba and in other districts, the protests will take the form of street demonstrations.

One of the organisers of the demonstrations in the Northern Region, Happy Mhango, said they would march from Katoto Secondary School Ground to Luwinga and back to Mzuzu City Council offices.

Northern Region Police spokesperson, Peter Kalaya, said they were ready to deal with people who want to loot during the demonstrations.

During the June 20 demonstrations, police used teargas to disperse crowds in Mzuzu and Lilongwe.

Some 11 people were arrested in the Northern Region for suspected looting.

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