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Industry weighs in on suspended lockdown

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Lorraine Nyasulu

Economic experts and industry captains have described the High Court’s decision to sustain an injunction stopping the planned 21-day lockdown as a temporal relief for small scale business operators.

High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda on Tuesday extended an injunction obtained by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition and others to stop the lockdown.

Commentators say although the local economy is headed for a decline due to the inevitable negative effects of the coronavirus, the impact could be minimised if businesspersons were operating freely.

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In an interview, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi Executive Director, George Khaki, said there still remains fears of reduced revenue and loss of jobs.

“Containment measures in other countries are still affecting us because of supply chains and in case of travel and hospitality, there is still reduced business.

“Our export markets are also affected because we are unable to sell abroad as many goods as possible. Secondly this is just an injunction and not final judgment. The cloud of the lockdown still looms and this is creating uncertainty,” Khaki said.

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In a separate interview, Economics Association of Malawi president, Lorraine Nyasulu said the country needs to ensure that the businesses continue to operate with or without a lockdown.

“The business environment remains uncertain because of Covid-19. Investor confidence depends on measures that government puts in place in view of a lockdown,” Nyasulu said.

Dean of Commerce at the Polytechnic, Betchani Tchereni, said the government revenue would remain subdued due to slowdown in business.

He added that job losses in most firms remain inevitable in the short to medium term.

“With or without the lockdown, the closure of countries such as China, the UK and South Africa has put some companies out of business,” Tchereni said.

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