Written by A MARAPOST CORRESPONDENT
MZUZU--At least one person was shot and rushed to hospital as police fired teargas in an effort to disperse striking civil servants in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.
Striking Civil servants mounted tree branch and stone barricades as they tussled with police while chanting anti-government songs.
They said Pres Joyce Banda had failed as leader and demanded her resignation.
The strike started last week and slowly but surely it's gathering momentum as public workers from other parts of the country join the action.
Pres Banda has been holed up some 350 kilometres away in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre.
She was scheduled to leave for South Africa on the first day of the strike on Monday last week for a short holiday. Some observers said it was wrong for the president to leave at that particular time.
But the planned trip was cancelled as it coincided with the passing of an influential chief among the Ngonis based in Northern Malawi were her support somewhat strong.
Things are not well in the country after she implemented a massive currency devaluation following IMF advice. The devaluation and floatation of the Malawian Kwacha has resulted in severe hardships for the people whose buying power has been eroded. The civil servants are now demanding a 67% pay increase.
“The situation is unbearable. How can we work when our salaries are now buying less than half of what we used to buy, and all the while there isn’t even any medicines to give the patients in hospitals?” lamented one nurse in Blantyre.
“We have already heard that the president is planning to give us all some brown envelopes with money to stop us from going on strike, but I do not think it is going to solve the problem. People are suffering and giving money only to nurses is not a solution.”
Meanwhile, Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) has warned of more nationwide protests following government’s dismissal of the petition that was presented in the nationwide protests that were organized by CAMA on January 17.
With no end in sight to the problems, Pres Banda is scheduled to leave for Guinea on a state visit.
© The Maravi Post 2013