Malawi: Blantyre, Zomba Stage Peaceful Demonstrations

Former President Joyce Banda arrives home after four years abroad.

Authorities at Blantyre District Council have assured organizers of the April 27 nationwide demonstrations in the southern region that they would deliver their petition to the State President as demanded.

Blantyre District Council Human Resources Officer, Charles Mphepo who received the petition on behalf of the District Commissioner, Bennet Nkasala said he was happy to have received the petition and assured the gathering that the DC's office would forward the petition to Capital Hill before close of business on Friday.

In a brief statement, he said: "I have received your petition and I can assure you that it will be given the attention it deserves and sent to the relevant office."

Mphepo commended organizers of the demonstrations for conducting a peaceful march and for cooperating with the police.

"This was a well organized march and it is pleasing to note that there have been no reports of casualties or fracas. May I appeal to you, therefore, to go back peacefully and continue to love our country," the Officer advised.

Chaiperson for Human Rights Defenders Forum for the Southern Region, Masauko Thawe said he was happy that the demonstrations were conducted peacefully and that council officials availed themselves to receive the petition.

"Demonstrating is our right in the Constitution and today we are happy to have exercised that right. The main issues we have presented in the petition concern governance and the increasing cases of corruption in government.

"We expect government to respond to the concerns within three months, failure of which we would take another action," he stated.

Thawe said the petition has called on the President to fire two of his Cabinet Ministers, Kondwani Nankhumwa and Goodall Gondwe.

There was heavy presence of police in the city of Blantyre but the men in uniform exercised maturity by allowing the demonstrators to do everything they wanted under their guard.

The march started from Chichiri Upper Stadium through Chipempere Highway to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Roundabout all the way to Blantyre Civic Offices.

And in Zomba, organizers and participants of the demonstrations commended Malawi Police Service in the Eastern Region for working hand in hand and professionally with them which made the exercise peaceful.

In an interview after presenting 10 points petition to District Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer for Zomba on Friday, one of the organizers, Sammy Aaron who is also Executive Director of Action Hope Malawi said they were satisfied with security and professionalism provided by police officers.

He urged participants not to be involved in any violence through stoning or breaking of shops as soon as they finish presenting their petition to the Commissioner.

"We are very proud of our police for giving us maximum security and coordination between them and us during demonstrations," Aaron pointed out.

Speaking after receiving the petition, District Commissioner for Zomba, Emmanuel Bambe hailed them for following all the procedures that led to peaceful demonstrations.

He promised them to send the petition to the State President before the end of business of Friday.

Among others, organizers demanded government to address some of the issues the country is facing such as power outages, albino attacks, investigation of deaths of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa and Anti-Corruption Bureau Officer Issa Njaunju, and creation of jobs among the youth.

They expressed concerns on how the state owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation was being used by government and wanted to know how K4 billion was shared among Members of Parliament where they demand the removal of Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe and Local Government Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa from cabinet.

There was low turn up of participants as matching started at Zomba Community Ground up to the District Commissioner's office where people joined them to observe as they were just looking on what was taking place.

In Zomba City, businesses were affected especially from morning up to 10:30hours where only 15 shops were operating including Metro and Shoprite.

Chinese and Asians shops were closed, but later opened from around 11:00 am.

Public transport was affected as there were only few minibuses operating.

Even traffic was low on the M3 road.

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