Chancellor College-based political science associate professor Mustapha Hussein has asked Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) boss John Kapito to engage government in dialogue instead of staging the planned January 17 2013 demonstrations.
But Kapito, whose organisation is leading in the planning of the consumer demonstrations to protest against the rising cost of living, among others, said government has shown arrogance by failing to respond positively to issues.
Hussein observed that although it is a constitutional right to hold demonstrations, one has to take into account that the current government inherited most problems from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime.
Said Hussein: “Instead of asking people to go to the streets, Mr. Kapito should engage government to map out activities in order to address the problems cited and those that have arisen due to the flotation of the kwacha. Demonstrations should be a last resort if government is showing signs of arrogance or failing to address issues.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Kapito said the scheduled demonstrations have been called by consumers because government has failed to address issues affecting them.
He cited the size of the Cabinet, government (extravagant) expenditure and President Joyce Banda’s frequent travel as some of the concerns raised by the consumers body.
“These are not new issues. You may recall that the Public Affairs Committee [PAC] had an audience with the President. But what came out? There were no solutions, but the President blatantly said she cannot cut on the travels.
“There are many strategies to engage government and demonstrations are just one way of doing it,” said Kapito.
Recently, government pleaded for patience with organisers of the demonstrations, saying it is working hard to address the concerns.
Among other issues, the demonstrators argue that the floatation of the kwacha without mitigation measures has impacted heavily on consumers.
Meanwhile, the demonstrations’ organising committee has called for a press briefing in Blantyre today to outline their issues, how the demonstrations will be conducted and how people will be involved.