Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito has hit back at critics of the January 17 demonstrations, arguing they are ignorant of the issues.
Kapito and other planners of demonstrations have been under fire from some quarters for refusing to go into dialogue with government to solve problems Malawians are facing. On Saturday, a network of concerned citizens chaired by businessperson Watson Katawa also joined the criticism, saying their group has been formed to counter the demonstrations.
Kapito on Sunday said those criticising the move to hold the demonstrations have no idea of the hard times Malawians are going through.
He argued the critics are well-to-do, but have no sympathy for poor consumers who cannot afford a living due to escalating prices of goods and services.
Kapito also refuted claims that the planners have ignored government’s call for dialogue. He said the planners petitioned government and gave it a two-week ultimatum, a step he described as dialogue.
Said Kapito: “They are entitled to their opinion. It is not our intention to go straight into demonstrations; that is why we have petitioned government. By giving government a petition and giving it 14 days to act, is that not giving room for discussion? What we have done is part of dialogue.
“Anyway, we are here to serve the interest of consumers who are going through hard times and not businessmen. Those are businessmen who just want to reap off from the poor.”
Associate professor of political science at Chancellor College Blessings Chinsinga said there is need for government and demonstrations organisers to go into dialogue. He said dialogue will signify maturity in solving the problems.
Said Chinsinga: “It will be very unfair and undemocratic for the organisers to go ahead with the demonstrations when government has created room for dialogue.
“However, there is need for government to take seriously the issues that are being raised because in that way, a solution might be reached.”