The renowned human rights and consumer activist, John Kapito has added his voice to the growing concerns over the damage the political demonstrations are causing on both public and private property including loss of business and has appealed to President Peter Mutharika to take conciliatory tone to help end post-election impasse.
Kapito: Poor Malawians are at the receiving end
For the past two months the country has had a series of demonstrations organised by civil society organisations (CSOs) with backing from opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM, protesting the May 21 presidential vote and demanding resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah.
Addressing a news conference in Blantyre, Kapito, who is Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director, said while it is constitutional right to demonstrate, it was worrisome that the demonstrations have not been peaceful and they need to be managed.
He accused President Mutharika for his tone during his public speeches, saying it is "only fanning the flame of anger in people who want to demonstrate."
Kapito said President Mutharika should rather be in forefront of preaching peace " and not issuing threats."
The Cama boss pointed out that the demonstrations have far -reaching consequences to the economy of the country as there were serious elements of vandalism where shops were looted, business premises such as banks and other business places were targeted and vandalized including individual homes of various personalities that were targeted for unknown various reasons.
"Consumers and Traders who are being inconvenienced or attacked have different political affiliations and that requires to be respected for a peaceful co-existence. In trying to safeguard their businesses some opted to close resulting in loss of business and significant inconveniences to their consumers. These losses affect the business community at all levels from manufacturing to small scale vendors and workers.
"The economic loss to traders, manufacturers and vendors cannot be quantified easily but its impact has wide reaching economic and social repercussions affecting on their livelihoods and sustainability," explained Kapito.
Meanwhile, Kapito has cautioned the careless utterances by people in social media and some radio and TV stations which have contributed to instill fear amongst business people and consumers.
Kapito took a swipe at taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), saying they portrayed messages that could be misunderstood to indicate that any planned demonstration or public assembly is a deliberate and destructive ploy by people who want to overthrow the leadership of this country.
MBC planted seeds of hatred through its programming that infuriated some protesters, noted the Cama boss.
He also blamed the delays and unwillingness by the City Assemblies to provide clearance to demonstration organizers as one of the issues that played a negative role in creating anger among the demonstrators.
Kapito also criticed Malawi Police, saying the law enforcers need to put their acts in order to minimise incidents of violence during demonstrations.
According to him, the police failed to protect demonstrators from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) zealots.