Top government officials from Ministry of Natural Resources and Mining on Friday, snubbed a meeting called by members of Reformed Timber Millers Union who have been protesting, with an aim of forcing government to allocate them a concession area in the Chikangawa Forest also known as Viphya Plantation.
The protests have been going on for a week now, with the angry Timber Millers blocking vehicles of foreign companies from entering and leaving the forest.
They want government to allocate them trees for timber harvesting.
The union leaders on Friday were locked up in a meeting with Malawi Defense Force (MDF) officials and the police, but failed to reach a consensus.
Deputy Director of Forestry, Kasizo Chirambo, showed up later but refused to meet the union members.
He however allegedly, secretly met Viphya Plantation officials.
Chirambo who declined media interviews said he only came to observe the situation and not to meet the irate union members.
The union leader Paul Nthambazale described the development as unfair.
“In our meeting the Plantation’s Manager said he is waiting for the Deputy Director who was traveling to meet us. But to our surprise, when he arrived, he just met the plantation’s manager,” Nthambazale said.
He then challenged that members of Reformed Timber Millers Union will remain in the forest and fight on until their demands are met.
Raiply Malawi is one of the companies that have been affected by the demonstrations.
The company’s spokesperson Dalitso Chimwala, said the protests have disrupted their operations.
“Our operations in the forest work on deadlines. This is the time to be constructing fire breaks, pruning and others works. But we have been disrupted. We thought, they could have been presenting their grievances to government, not blocking us from our work,”Chimwala said.
On Thursday the union threatened unspecified action against government should it remain adamant on the matter.