Thousands of Malawians took to the streets on Friday protesting the unemployment and the high cost of living in the country under the leadership of President Lazarus Chakwera who promised to take Malawians to ‘Canaan’.
The demonstrators, led by former top official of the Tonse Alliance Bon Kalindo, chanted songs against President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulo Klaus Chilima while carrying placards demanding the current administration to fulfill campaign promises, such as creating one million jobs and providing free water and electricity connections.
Kalindo, who has meanwhile resigned from the UTM party which ironically is part of other eight political parties which won the 2020 court sanctioned presidential election as Tonse Alliance, is accusing President Chakwera and his cabinet of betraying Malawians.
According to Kalindo, some of the concerns include, among others: rise of fuel and food prices and other basic needs, increase of transport costs and tollgate fees, unemployment, absence of National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) loans for the youths, the infamous amended labour relations law, corruption and nepotism.
The influential comedian also held similar protests in Blantyre where patronage was described as poor considering the fact that the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) enjoys massive support in the region.
However, contrary to people’s expectations, ruling officials in particular, the protests in Lilongwe where the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has lion’s share of supporters, saw thousands of citizens flocking to Lilongwe Community Centre ground where the demonstrations started.
But tension ensued as armed police officers formed a cordon just near the Community Centre ground—blocking the protesters from proceeding with their march to city centre.
The police blocked the road leading to city center at Kamuzu Central Hospital Roundabout and also fired tear gas at the group.
The law enforcers also chased the protesters to as far as Chilambula Road and the road was closed temporarily as the marchers pelted stones at the police.
President Lazarus Chakwera was at the moment holding an event at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) within the city centre.
The protesters, however, managed to deliver the petition to Lilongwe District commissioner Lawford Palani.
Speaking after presenting the petition, Kalindo called for resignation of the Inspector General of Police George Kainja and Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda respectively for what he termed “unprofessional act” by Police to fire teargas on unarmed protesters.
Police had to fire teargas on a number of occasions during the march following simmering tensions.
Malawians are currently sailing in economic problems as prices of essential commodities continue to rise exponentially.
Information minister Gospel Kazako told a press conference last week that the government realizes the problems Malawians are facing, and the president will soon address the nation on corrective measures.