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Government detached from reality—protesters

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Gospel Kazako

Protest movement leader Bon Kalindo has told the government that it has failed to govern the country to the expectations of Malawians amid elevating cost of living.

Friday, Kalindo led thousands of protesters in Mzuzu who marched from Katoto Secondary School ground to Mzuzu Civic Offices where they presented a five-paged petition to government.

He said much as the government has revised downwards tollgate fees, it is just one out of a myriad of challenges that Malawians are facing requiring the attention of Capital Hill.

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Other demands on the list are that the government should revise downwards water tariffs which went up by about 52 percent from November 1, 2021, cooking oil prices, fertilizer, fight corruption and also honour its promises such as job creation.

“We are not happy with what is happening in the country. It is not that we are happy with the demonstration because all we want is peace and that cost of living is eased. But this is a warning to the government that if they do not take heed of what we are saying or demanding, then we will be going in the districts and we will shut down the borders,” he said.

Kalindo, who was attired in a black t-shirt, camouflage trouser and black boots, said it was pleasing to note that the marchers were peaceful throughout the route, owing it to the police and other stakeholders who provided security.

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He made reference to protests in Blantyre and Lilongwe where the police ‘unreasonably’ threw teargas canisters at protesters.

Receiving the petition on behalf of the council, Mzuzu City Council Public Relations Officer, Macdonald Gondwe, said it is pleasing that the demonstrations were peaceful.

“Our role is to deliver this petition to relevant authorities,” he said.

However, there were flashes of chaotic scenes, particularly in Chibanja and Chibavi townships, as protesters were returning to their places of residence and businesses.

Some blocked the M1 Road, burnt tyres and pelted stones at some vehicles.

Police had to fire teargas to disperse the protesters.

MDF soldiers from Moyale Barracks also intervened to bring peace and order in the city where business had been at a standstill for close to five hours.

But in an interview a day before the demonstrations, government spokesperson Gospel Kazako, said they are still standing for dialogue.

“We opened dialogue with them because we have confidence that the issues they were raising deserved government’s ear and attention. We are yet to hear from them on how demonstrating in the streets of the country will breed solutions in the absence a round table dialogue. We are avoiding a temptation of believing that there is more to these demonstrations than the issues they tabled.

“On closing of borders, we advise them to consult the laws of this country. They will not succeed in provoking government because we believe in peace and not confrontation. Malawians are very intelligent people and are able to see if indeed the motivation of these demos is the issues they claim to represent or is there something else?” Kazako wondered.

Among those who joined the demonstrations was activist Sylvester Namiwa.

Ironically, Namiwa on Wednesday had criticised Kalindo for meeting cabinet ministers on Tuesday, arguing the latter betrayed Malawians.

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