By Thandie Chadzandiyani
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s civil rights body Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) on Monday, April 19, 2021 accused Information Minister Gospel Kazako and Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) for continued sleeping on duty over exorbitant internet and phone call charges.
The grouping has threatened to take to task Kazako over his earlier statement of helping Malawians with affordable calls and internet charges.
CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa told the news conference in the capital Lilongwe that if MACRA will not work on concerns raised will hold vigil at its offices.
Namiwa made the warning ahead of Wednesday, 21, 2021 demonstration against punitive taxes on basic items including water, electricity, fuel, cooking oil and among others.
The demos are slated for Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mulanje.
“Malawians are currently struggling to make ends meet due to among many others, the high cost of living, which is as a result of high cost of essential commodities and services such as water, electricity, cooking oil, fuel and mobile phone charges.
“Therefore by demanding the immediate scrapping off of 16.5 percent VAT on cooking oil, and the commencement of the review and subsequent removal of some of the taxes and levies on fuel, water and electricity, in a bid to reduce the cost of production, thereby making the local products and services more affordable and accessible to the ordinary Malawians, who are also the voters,” says Namiwa.
He adds, “All these malpractices are mercilessly punishing the vulnerable and the marginalized in society. These peaceful demonstrations are scheduled to take place this Wednesday, 21st April 2021, in the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre, and Mulanje district. It is against this background that CDEDI has launched a crusade to liberate Malawians from decades of economic bondage”.
However only Mzuzu City Council that responded promptly by calling for a planning meeting that was held at the council chambers on Friday, 16 April 2021.
The meeting resolved to reschedule the protests due to the Vice President Dr. Saulosi Chilima’s official visit to the region, a development the city authorities said would strain security agents.
“The silence from the rest of the councils is a futile attempt to deny Malawians their right to hold peaceful demonstrations, it is a clear case of impunity and arrogance that is being displayed in our public offices”.
“On the other hand, it is evidence enough that the Malawi Congress Party’s (MCP) regime is in itself a threat to the future of our hard earned democracy” explained Namiwa.
Nevertheless, CDEDI is not moved with the silence and is proceeding with the peaceful demonstrations on acquired date.