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Truck drivers rebuff HRDC

Isaac Salima:

Gift Trapence

Truck Drivers Association has said it has nothing to do with the endorsement of its scheduled demonstrations by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).

HRDC announced in Lilongwe on Friday that it was in support of the truck drivers’ strike set for December 2.

The truck drivers went on a strike last month in an attempt to force employers to hike wages. The strike, which lasted three days, resulted in, among others, a temporary shortage of fuel.

Addressing the media in Blantyre on Saturday, the truck drivers’ body spokesperson Paul Kachitsa said they are not seeking support from any organisation including the coalition. HRDC has been organising protests calling for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson, Jane Ansah, for “mismanagement of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections results”

“Ours is just an industrial strike, so we do not want to be associated with any grouping, political in nature. Much as we require support from other people of goodwill, we would like to distance ourselves from those we differ in ideologies,” Kachitsa said.

However, HRDC Vice-Chairperson, Gift Trapence, accused the association’s leadership of being divided on the matter.

“It is their leadership that approached us requesting for support in terms of mobilising Malawians. So we know that when there are demonstrations, politicians can use leaders to divide you so that is what has happened here,” Trapence said.

But Kachitsa insisted that they did not write HRDC asking for the coalition’s involvement on the issue.

“Maybe it is other [truck] drivers [who approached HRDC] but as far as I am concerned, we did not seek any support from anyone apart from ourselves,” Kachitsa said.

He said the truck drivers have resolved to put a foot on the brake pedal following decision by Transporters Association of Malawi not to agree to the government’s decision to have the drivers’ pay hiked.

Last month, the government proposed a minimum K100, 000 salary for the drivers. But last week, Transporters Association of Malawi said it was not ready to start honouring the pay hike as the current operating environment was unfavourable for them citing dominance of foreign-land owned transportation companies as a factor.

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