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Malawians Protest High Cost of Living


Protesters in Malawi march to deliver the petition at the petition at Blantyre City Council offices. (Lameck Masina/VOA)

Hundreds of people in Malawi held protests Tuesday in the commercial capital Blantyre against the high cost of living and unemployment saying both have become unbearable during the current administration.

The civil society group known as Human Rights Ambassadors led the protests that attracted a heavy police presence.

Among other issues, the protesters accused current President Lazarus Chakwera of failing to fulfill promises he made during the campaign period last year.

Steve Chimwaza led the protests.

“They promised a lot; they promised rule of law, they promised democracy, they promised 1 million jobs," Chimwaza said. "They promised cheap driving licenses and passports, nothing is there.”

A protestor carrying carrying a placard during Tuesday protests in Blantyre. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
A protestor carrying carrying a placard during Tuesday protests in Blantyre. (Lameck Masina/VOA)


People in Malawi have been extremely frustrated because of the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services.

Last month, the government increased the price of fuel by more than 20%, which then caused price hikes for other commodities.

The government blamed the price hikes on the impact of COVID-19 and also the global increase in fuel prices.

But Chimwaza says Malawians will not accept any excuses.

“I would like to take you back. It is Mr. President himself who told Malawians in vernacular language [during the campaign period] that if he fails in two years he will resign," Chimwaza said. "He gave a time frame, but [to this] date, even 100,000 people have not even [been] employed.”

Mary Nkhata was among the women who joined the protests.

She said she already receives a low monthly salary and the recent price hikes in goods and services have led to her failing to pay school fees for her children. She said even buying soap now is becoming a problem.

However, President Chakwera said recently that it is not realistic to expect his administration to fulfill all campaign promises within one year.

Protestors carry a banner along Kamuzu High Way In Blantyre. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
Protestors carry a banner along Kamuzu High Way In Blantyre. (Lameck Masina/VOA)


Mustapha Hussein is a political science lecturer at the University of Malawi.

He says the protesters’ grievances are justified.

“There is a limit to which the situation can be blamed to COVID, because COVID is a global pandemic," Hussein said. "And there are some countries that seem to be progressing amidst COVID. So, government must take the responsibility on unfulfilled promises.”

In their petition, the protesters are calling for the resignation of President Chakwera, his Vice President Saulos Chilima, National Assembly Speaker Gotani Hara, and leader of opposition, Kondwani Nankhumwa, if they fail to address their grievances.

Blantyre City Authorities received the petition from the protesters and promised to deliver it to the authorities for feedback.

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