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Violent protests in Malawi due to COVID-19 lockdown

Opposition party blames ruling DPP for 21-day lockdown to delay presidential polls

Ekip   | 18.04.2020
Violent protests in Malawi due to COVID-19 lockdown


Violent protests Friday hit several parts of Malawi as informal business owners, mainly vendors, complained that a 21-day nationwide lockdown because of COVID-19 “will make them starve to death,” according to local media. 

Protests in Blantyre, Mangochi, Karogna, Zomba, Kasungu, and Mzuzu, saw demonstrators present petitions to government-affiliated town councils or district commissioners, the Nyasa Times reported.

“We want government to provide us with upkeep money to survive on during the 21 days because we cannot afford to stay home without food,” the newspaper quoted Masdalitso Kalipide, a protest leader in eastern lakeshore district of Mangochi. “Most of us rely on daily earnings to provide for our families and without going out to sell our merchandise we cannot survive.”

Mangochi Town Council Chief Executive Officer Abubakar Nkhoma responded, saying: “We have received the petition and we will forward it to the Office of the President and Cabinet through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.”

Government spokesman Mark Botomani said the administration is aware of the protests. “We are engaging them to see how best we can handle the situation,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

In Zomba, angry vendors closed the main market, and marched to civic offices where they demanded clarification on the council’s decision to closed the market during the lockdown.

The United Transformation Movement (UTM) party described the lockdown as a tactic by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to delay presidential polls scheduled for July 2, because of the nullification of the May 21, 2019, vote.

“If at all they have passion for the people, they would have looked at what to do to give the people. It only shows that this is election fever. They are shivering because of the fresh elections,” the Zodiak Malawi website quoted UTM’s Secretary General Patricia Kaliati as saying about the ruling party.

“Poverty level in Malawi is so high. Most of the people work hand to mouth. People will die because of hunger and not COVID-19,” she said.

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