Some political and social commentators in the country have said that the recurrence of demonstrations and industrial action in various government agencies is as a result of failure by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led administration to utilise dialogue in resolving issues.
Lately, the country has witnessed threats of sit-ins from civil servants, strikes by University of Malawi (Unima) lecturers, primary and secondary school teachers, primary school pupils, university students, and recently minibus drivers and conductors.
Speaking to The Daily Times Sunday, Chancellor College -based political analyst, Joseph Chunga, said the strikes are a sign that the economy is not delivering what people want, arguing the cost of living is high hence people demanding more pay.
“The strikes are also a sign that the authorities we have in our government agencies are failing to manage issues through dialogue. The authorities are not being responsible enough to sit down with the juniors and discuss issues amicably to avoid going to the extent of strikes. We all know the economy is not in good state that is why government has to be considerate in the way it solves these problems,” he said.
Social commentator, Rafiq Hajat, concurred with Chunga and said the strikes that are happening are a sign of dissatisfaction among Malawians who feel they deserve better from government.
“Basically, a strike is a manifestation of dissatisfaction. People go on strike usually when they have exhausted all other means of communicating with their employers or when they feel that despite having communicated, their concerns are not being addressed adequately. It is very destructive and I would say it is an act of last resort,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace National Secretary, Martin Chiphwanya, said though the economy is in bad shape and the cost of living is high, there has to be a balance to look at the broader picture arguing that raising civil servants’ salaries anyhow would result into a huge government wage bill.
“It is a known fact that the economy hasn’t been doing well more especially when the donors pulled out. The cost of living has gone so high. As a result people are finding it so hard to make ends meet.
“As a way out, those working for the government are demanding a raise in their perks to make ends meet. Raising salaries is a good thing however, on the other hand if you raise salaries, what it means is that the government wage bill is going to be on the higher side, a development which will mean that government will not be able to implement certain development initiatives,” he said.
Minister of Information, Nicholas Dausi, described the development as unfortunate, arguing government is only trying to implement laws that safeguard the people of the country.
“In the case of the minibus operators’ incident, what do Malawians want from government? We are trying to curb road accidents and they think the laws are working to their disadvantage? As government we think that is very unfortunate. A day is coming when we will know who they can trust but meanwhile, we are going to continue to implement initiatives that ensure security for everyone,” he said.
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