Kaunjika vendors demonstrate govt blinks

The Malawi Government revenue collection targets hit a snag before passing of the budget, with second-hand clothing vendors forcing the government to retract its new tax of two dollars thirty cents (K5500) per kilogramme after they closed the streets of Old Town in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe on Wednesday.

A cross section of demonstrators in Lilongwe

Singing anti-government songs and saying that they were “tired of him”, the vendors gathered to start a demonstration, which attracted hundreds of other onlookers and sang and chanted, waiting for the demonstrations to begin.

video from online sources of the demonstrators

Panicking Ministers- Simplex Chithyola for Finance, Sosten Gwengwe for Trade and Chimwendo Banda was reported to have had late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning meetings that resulted in the government retracting its proposed tax, which was supposed to take effect on 1st of April 2024.

According to the Zodiak Online report, Lilongwe District Commissioner Lawford Palani called one of the leaders for the vendors to cancel the demonstration as the government had reversed the decision.

The vendors rejected Palani’s statement, asking for concrete evidence that the government intends to withdraw the new taxation.

“Vuto la boma ili ndi labodza kwambiri (the problem with this administration lies too much)” said some vendors as their leaders reported the latest development.

Lilongwe’s busy road from Crossroads roundabout into the Old Town area remained closed for hours due to the enormous numbers of vendors demonstrating.

The demonstration exposed the government’s weaker side as none of the ministers were brave enough to address the vendors, which is a sign of a lack of leaders on its part who can resonate with the people.

The demonstrations come on the heels of a damning opinion poll which states that 90 per cent of Malawians think the government has failed economically and that nothing is expected to change.

President Lazarus Chakwera, who came into power on the back of demonstrations, is scared of the repeat of demonstrations. At times, his party youth have interfered with demonstrators, but Wednesday’s protests show how unpopular the leader is.

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