Zimbabwe violence impacts on Malawi
By Pilirani Kachinziri:
Malawi’s international transport operators have started feeling the pinch of the violent protests that have rocked Zimbabwe since Monday.
The protests have been sparked by the Zimbabwean government’s announcement last week of record petrol and diesel price hike by 150 percent.
Road Transport Operators Association (RTOA) executive director Chrissy Flao Mwale said there is no access for the transporters who use the Zimbabwe route when going to South Africa, which is Malawi’s main trading partner, because the roads have been blocked and trucks are being burnt.
“I haven’t yet looked at the actual impact on how the transporters have been affected in terms of figures but so far there is no access [on that route],” she said.
Sources indicate that some transporters are using a longer route that passes through Zambia to go to South Africa. The route is estimated to be about 3, 000 kilometres—over 800 kilometers compared to 2,244 kilometers which is covered between Malawi and South Africa via Zimbabwe.
“Already in that case, the contractor will be paying more [for the service],“ Fulao said.
When put to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministries spokesperson Rejoice Shumba urged transporters and travelers to exercise caution and observe the situation.
She, however, said the government is do all it can to provide security to all Malawians affected by the situation in Zimbabwe.
“The travelling public and commercial traffic normally makes individual decisions in such cases. Government is optimistic of normalisation of the situation in Zimbabwe which is an important strategic transit country for Malawi.
“Our Mission in Zimbabwe is monitoring the situation and is working hand in hand with the Government of Zimbabwe which has strongly condemned the demonstrations and will take every opportunity to update the travelling public. It is the duty of the Government of Malawi to ensure the safety of its people abroad and will take every opportunity to update the travelling public accordingly,” Shumba said.
One of Zimbabwe journalists told The Daily Times Thursday that the situation was volatile and at least nine people were shot dead and several injured while 600 people have been arrested for violence and looting.
“We have woken up but still no solution to problems in the country and the problems will continue in the future even if it seems quiet for now,” she said.
She said government has shut down WhatsApp services to stifle communication among the protesters.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who flew to Russia on state visit, on Wednesday called for calm and peace in the country.
According to the state run newspaper The Herald, Monday’s violent protests saw 30 vehicles being burnt as people looted shops.
Malawi’s exports to South Africa were recorded at $54.722 million (about K40 billion) in 2016, according to figures from Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc).
Main export commodities to the South African market include oil cakes and other oil seed residues, dried shelled peas, fruits and fruit products and sunflower seeds, according to Mitc.
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