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Businesses at standstill

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By Chiwemwe Mangazi:

Businesses were brought to a standstill again in the country’s major cities yesterday as scores of Malawians took to the streets, protesting May 21 Tripartite Elections results.

The protesters are, among other things, demanding the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah.

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Since May 21 elections results were announced on May 27, the business operating environment has been shaky, largely due to the after-effects of the polls.

While businesses have not been spared from election fever in past general elections, this year, the time span is elongated.

Opposition political parties, Malawi Congress Party and UTM, are disputing election results in court.

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Thursday, most shops in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu cities and other districts remained closed while those open were poorly patronised.

Some small and medium entrepreneurs we spoke to expressed mixed feelings.

Richard Jussab, a taxi operator in Blantyre, said the demonstrations’ effects on businesses were becoming unbearable, hence, need for a lasting remedy.

Vincent Mpiwu who runs a hardware shop at Blantyre flea market said, in the interest of business operation, all concerned parties should come to a round table.

National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Chairperson, William Mwale, Thursday said parties should come to an agreement within the shortest time.

“It is chaotic. Businesses performance is affected, even large enterprises are stumbling,” Mwale said.

This is the fourth time Malawians led by the civil society have gone to the streets to demand the resignation of Ansah.

The political uncertainty forced Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, an umbrella body of private sector players, to postpone its trade fair.

The exhibition, which was initially scheduled for June 20 to 30 2019, was postponed to August 31 as countries withdrew their participation.

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