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Teachers’ strike turns violent in Mzuzu, Lilongwe

By Patience Lunda & Joseph Luhanga:

Justin Saidi

Day three of the teachers’ strike turned ugly in Lilongwe and Mzuzu where violence flared as learners clashed with police.

Police officers used teargas canisters to disperse learners who tried to invade Northern Region Police Headquarters.

Some of the learners pelted stones at vehicles and buildings. Sana Cash and Carry and Axa buses were some of the casualties.

The protests, which were being held despite rains in the city, are aimed at forcing the government to pay teachers their December salaries after being skipped on payroll claiming they did not submit their national identity card details.

On Monday, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary, Justin Saidi, had promised that the teachers would be paid by Tuesday.

However, Accountant General Sungani Mandala said the government had paid some of the teachers Wednesday.

Teachers Union of Malawi Mzuzu City member, Irene Jere, said the strike will not be called off until all the 5,000 teachers have received their salaries.

“We have not received any communication that all the teachers has received the December salary. We will make sure that every teacher receives the salaries and tomorrow [today], we are adding another gear,” she said, adding that they did not ask the learners to join the strike.

However, Jere said the learners have a right to hold demonstrations when they feel that their rights have been infringed.

Meanwhile, Northern Region Police spokesperson, Peter Kalaya, said two learners were injured during the protests in Mzuzu and that seven motor vehicles were smashed.

In Lilongwe, some learners marched to the District Commissioner (DC)’s office, protesting that they have not been able to attend classes due to the teachers’ strike.

The learners from Likuni Boys and Likuni Girls schools, Makesha, Mbidzi and Chankhandwe stunned onlookers as they invaded the DC’s offices.

In Kasungu, a temporally office for Karonga DC has been torched by some people suspected to have been part of the protesters in the teachers demonstrations.

The office was being housed in the fisheries department as its original building was torched last year during demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition.

DC, Paul Kalilombe and Karonga deputy police spokesperson, Frank Black, confirmed the incident.

Kalilombe said they had just started procuring office equipment for the makeshift office adding that they rescued three chairs only.

“The office has been completely damaged. All files are gone. We had just procured new computers and they are all gone,” he said.

Black said police rushed to calm the situation and they are investigating the incident.— Addiction reporting by Feston Malekezo

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