I am assuming that everyone has heard of the announcement regarding the impending demonstrations organized by the Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) which are scheduled to take place on January 17th.
CAMA Executive Director John Kapito argues that President Joyce Banda’s administration has failed to manage the effects of the devaluation of the Kwacha currency.
The PP administration has devalued the Kwacha by almost 50% immediately soon after President Mrs Joyce Banda took over the reign of power following the sudden demise of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika in April this year. She succumbed to the pressure exerted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which demanded the devaluation of the Kwacha if the economy of Malawi was to be resuscitated.
This devaluation has led to the high skyrocketing of goods – this has brought the most negative impact on the most vulnerable Malawians – those families that depend on less than a dollar per day. Of course the President had appealed to Malawians to be patient as the decision she had taken would have some ‘short-term’ pain. She has been telling the nation that it will take time for the economy to fully recover since the decision of devaluing the Kwacha was long overdue.
However, the only surprising thing here is that Kapito was at the forefront when it came to blaming the past DPP regime for not devaluing the Kwacha currency and he was also among the first to applaud JB for having the Kwacha devalued. Yet today, rather hypocritically, things have gone out of hand and he is saying let’s go into the streets.
I know that it is a constitutional right of all citizens to demonstrate but does this mean that we should be demonstrating even where there is no clear agenda and goals for that protest? Can the organizers assure Malawians that the demonstrations are in any way going to ease the pain that Malawians are feeling as a result of the devaluation of the Kwacha? Or will it not only further encourage instability?
To me, I feel like going into the streets will just be a waste of time and resources. The organizers should not cheat the people and claim that the protests will be peaceful because we have already seen protests that initially started as peaceful descending into violence.
The organisers should also not forget that it is not only Malawi which is sailing through economic hardships; even our donors such Britain, USA and Germany are living under the austerity measures with the standard of living in these countries drastically decreasing in recent years. Their governments have made big cuts despite much opposition. So, must Malawi too, if it ever to have a ‘vibrant’ economy.
Sometimes, it is not good just to do things for the sake of doing them or to just achieve our own ulterior motives but we should also be able to examine the consequences of such dealings.
Fresh are memories of the July 20, 2011 demonstrations which left scores of people dead. It was the same song – the organizers cheating the public with statements that the protests would be peaceful. But look what happened at the end? Many people lost their lives and property. Does Malawi really want to experience that again?
It is an undisputable fact that the JB government is a listening government unlike the one preceding it. The President has opened the door for everyone to go and present his or her grievances and this can be seen by a number of wrong decisions she has made and rescind them later after a public outcry.
If CAMA has a better solution to the problems Malawi is swimming through, why can’t it just ask for an audience with the President? Or maybe they think that their protests will allow the JB rescind the decision of the devaluation the Kwacha as well? Then what next?
The question I must ask is why most of the people can’t see and appreciate what the President has done in recovering the economy, which was devastated for eight years. Credit needs to be given for the performance of this administration in extremely difficult economic times.
Everyday, we hear donors pumping their money into the country. Even the IMF has given the country billions of Kwachas while confirming that the economy is on the right track.
What will happen if those demonstrations turn into violent? How will the organizers handle the consequences? Are they ready to take the responsibilities if there will be any violence or rioting?
Let’s just have a quick reminder. The late President Bingu wa Mutharika refused to devalue the Kwacha but the prices of commodities were still skyrocketing. For example, Sugar was so scarce and was being sold at K700 if found. But now, the Kwacha has been devalued but Sugar is at K320 on average.
Ok fine, let’s go to fuel. During the DPP’s regime, the fuel was cheap at filling station but scarce. However, when JB devalued the Kwacha though the prices are a bit higher but the supply is plentiful – which one would people prefer?
Some may argue that we are also facing fuel shortage problem this time. Yes, but it is a temporary problem and something we have experienced before. And if Nigeria, the largest fuel exporter in Africa faces shortages of fuel, what more with Malawi?
And yet, here also comes Honourable Atupele Muluzi ‘supporting’ the demo yet he was in the same system championing the economic recovery plan. Is he not the one who said Malawians are now swallowing Quinine instead of Panado? And today, he says yes it is a constitution right to demonstrate which is obviously showing that he is in support of the demo, – is he being realistic…. Or is he being opportunistic?
Anyway, that was my view. Feel free to share yours too below.
Should we go into the streets or not?