Monday’s Constitutional Court judgement put business at a standstill across the country.
Instead, only small pockets of human activity were witnessed, punctuated by anxiety, suspicious peace and calm that descended on the country’s cities and major trading centres.
For instance, the country’s commercial hub, Blantyre, was a shadow of itself. The hustle and bustle of activity that characterises life between Blantyre central business district (CBD) and Limbe was not there.
Few retailers such as Chipiku Stores, Spar and Shoprite defied the fear of having their shops broken into and looted by irate losers of the case as they were seen operating as usual.
Driving on the Masauko Chipembere Highway to Blantyre, one could almost touch the silence that engulfed the streets as traffic flow was less than on a normal working day.
In Blantyre CBD, a few traders were on the street pavements where only a handful of people at a time were seen obliviously passing by, bargaining or buying merchandise.
Motorists did not endure the usual parking headaches as many parking slots along the streets were empty.
Police officers were rarely seen making random patrols in the city and, on a few occasions, Malawi Defence Force (MDF) vehicles carrying soldiers were also spotted.
A visit to Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Southern Region headquarters at Chichiri found only few party followers listening to the court proceedings from a small black radio set while at Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Southern Region offices, no one was allowed inside the main gate.
In separate interviews, people The Nation interviewed said they were told not to report for work due to the uncertainty brought about by the elections case.
In a separate interview on NBS Bank premises at Ginnery Corner, a College of Medicine second year student Cecilia Kanthiti said they were told that business would be “unusual”.
In a separate interview, an intern at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s Physiotherapy Department Kondwani Kantande said they were told not to report for duties.
The situation was the same in Lilongwe with random checks showing that the city was unusually calm, with few motorists spotted.
The capital city’s roads that are usually clogged with traffic jams remained clear as police and the military strategically positioned themselves on hot spots, especially near business premises.
Malangalanga, Bwalo la Njobvu and Tsoka Flea Market were deserted with only a few pedestrians seen in the streets. Major supermarkets such as Game Stores, Chipiku, Spar, Sana Mega Store, Tutla Supermarkets were also closed.
In Zomba, few people were seen in the morning commuting from various locations to the city centre.
However, most shops were closed and in some primary schools, particularly within the city centre, learners and pupils reported for classes but around 9am, both the teachers and the learners went back to their homes.
In Nkhotakota, business was subdued as few shops, mainly mobile money operators and banks, were open.
In Mzuzu, few shops such as Sana, People’s Supermarket and pharmacies were opened while many others remained closed for the whole day. A handful of vendors selling consumables like tomatoes, fish and onions were seen in town. n
—Additional Writing by Holyce Kholowa and Davie Mchinga, Correspondents