Written by PIUS NYONDO
MZUZU--Malawi civil servants in Mzuzu braved a chilly morning on Wednesday and expressed their frustration on the appalling working conditions and meager salaries by presenting their petition to government while chanting anti-Joyce Banda songs.
The march, which was forerun by Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) Vice President Edwin Theu, was punctuated with funeral dirges, exaggarrated weeping by some to send a message to the government that all wasn't well with them.
After presenting their petition at Mzuzu Chief Executive Offices, the civil servants from the departments of forestry, education, trade and agriculture changed their doleful songs to satirical ones.
They chanted: "Anafoira boma lili lao, Anafoira boma lili lao! Amayi awa! eeeeh! Amayi awa! Boma lili lawo", insinuating that Pres Joyce Banda is goofing in as far as taking good care of civil servants is concerned.
Some went as far saying as saying the economy was better off during the reign of Pres Bingu wa Mutharika who died a sudden death while in office last April.
Even the team from the Malawi police, known for wearing stern faces during such occasions, shared their smiles when the songs were sang, and nodded each time the marchers said they [police] also share their predicament.
The rest of Mzuzu City was left to watch. Some people, mostly vendors and private company employees, clapped hands as the public workers protested.
Speaking to MaraPost after presenting the petition, CSTU Vice President Edwin Theu said they decided to go ahead with the march because government wasn't expressing any seriousness in addressing their concerns despite government issuing a press release Tuesday night that it would raise the perks of all its employees.
"I haven't even seen the document from government myself. What we want is a strong negotiation team that can help iron out this fracas," said Theu.
He said if government made a serious offer, they would look at it.
According to some of the demands in the petition presented, Malawi civil servants want salary restructuring which could see the lowest paid government employee collecting K75 000 a month while a graduate will be getting K186 000.
Malawi civil servants also want their allowances including leave grants be revised upwards by 100 per cent. They are further asking government to assist civil servants living with HIV/AIDS by providing a 50kg bag of maize, 10kg of Likuni Phala, 10 litres of cooking oil and 30 eggs every month.
(c) The Maravi Post 2013