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Cross-border traders wary of Zam elections

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James Chiutsi

Cross border traders exporting into the Zambia market are keeping fingers crossed for a conflict free election as that country goes to vote today.

This follows revelations that currently 30 percent of business deals among members of the Cross-border Traders Association of Malawi have been put on hold to pave the way for the elections.

Zambia was recorded as Malawi’s fifth largest market in 2020 with exports amounting to $26,886,000 (about K22.5 billion at current rate).

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In an interview Cross-border Traders Association of Malawi Chairperson Esther Tchukambiri said there is uncertainty as regards how developments will unfold in that country following the election and that many exporters have put on hold plans to travel to Zambia.

“The immediate impact is that most of the businesses we work with have closed in Zambia to pave the way for the election; so, even if we export, we may not find counterparts at work. Also we are not sure of the outcome of the result and therefore there may be policy changes if the administration changes and this could greatly affect how we trade with Zambia.

“Already trading between Malawi and South Africa slowed due to the Covid pandemic and Zambia was the immediate available market. The election will also slow our exports to that country and eventually Malawi exports in 2021 will be affected,” Tchukambiri said.

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In a separate interview, Executive Director of the SME Chamber James Chiutsi prayed for a violent free-election;

“We really are hoping for a conflict free elections, otherwise, anything will disturbe cross-border trade. Several SMEs are really reliant on the Zambia economy. We pray for free and fair and accepted outcomes of the results,” Chiutsi said.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu is facing a tight contest against Hakainde Hichilema a businessman who has criticised the incumbent’s economic management.

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