Malawians Protest High Cost of Living, Alleged Corruption

Protesters march against the rising cost of living and what they claim is poor governance, in Blantyre, Malawi, Oct. 27, 2022. (Lameck Masina/VOA)

In Malawi, protesters and opposition supporters chanted and marched Thursday in the commercial capital, Blantyre, to protest the high cost of living and alleged corruption.

The demonstrators presented a petition to the office of President Lazarus Chakwera.

Joshua Chisa Mbele, leader of Action Against Impunity, a network of civil rights organizations behind the protest, accused the government of mishandling money Malawi received to fight COVID-19, among other alleged transgressions.

Social media influencer Joshua Chisa Mbele leads the protests in Blantyre, Malawi. (Lameck Masina/VOA)

"We are tired of a government which is stealing day and night," he said. "We have lost so much resources for the past two years. We lost the COVID money and we cannot take it anymore. We are saying that they should leave the office and go home."

Mbele also said Chakwera has failed to fulfill promises he made during his campaign two years ago, when he vowed to ensure food security to all Malawians and create one million jobs in the country once he was in power.

There was no immediate comment from the government on the concerns raised by the protesters.

Earlier this week, Chakwera fired Minister of Agriculture Robin Lowe and his deputy Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima over what the president called "incompetence and gross negligence."

The president blamed the two for facilitating a fertilizer procurement deal which saw Malawi's government lose about $725,000 to a British company that failed to supply the commodity.

The issue was among those listed as grounds for Thursday's demonstration. Malawi's opposition parties supported the protest, saying it was justified.

Protester Rebecca Mwale said the situation in the country was growing worse, with food prices unreasonably high and medicines in short supply.

Mbele said he hopes Chakwera responds to the concerns once he sees the protesters' petition, which was presented to his office.

"In the petition, we are saying that we want to see action. We have heard enough, we have spoken enough, we want to see action. We want Chakwera to show leadership. We want him to take action so that we preserve what is remaining as people's assets," Mbele said.

Similar protests are expected Friday in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe, where protesters plan to march to the state house to present a petition directly to Chakwera.