Lilongwe City markets vendors yesterday petitioned Lilongwe City Council (LCC) against allowing Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to continue holding protest marches to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign.
The vendors said the demonstrations have negatively affected their businesses as customers are scared to make it to their trading places, thereby denying them revenue.
During the march, the vendors carried well-designed placards some of which read: ‘We are tired of demonstrations’, ‘Demonstrations against demonstrations’ and ‘Vendors against demos’.
There was heavy presence of armed police during their peaceful march that used the same routes the anti-Ansah protesters use.
Delivering their petition to LCC chief executive officer John Chome, representative of the vendors, Gabriel Mpezeni, said they were tired of the demos and would hold vigils at the Civic Offices if the anti- Ansah demonstrations will continue.
They also asked the council to consult them on demonstration routes to ensure that their businesses are not affected.
Mpezeni said: “While we know demonstrating is a right, we ask your able office to change the routes these demonstrators use so that our businesses are not affected.
“When you are giving them a go-ahead to demonstrate, we should be present to protect our businesses. If this [demonstrations] will not stop, we will hold a vigil here.”
He claimed that some vendors have lost their merchandise through looting during demonstrations.
In his response, Chome said he needed to go through the petition before providing a response.
However, he told the vendors that demonstrations were a constitutional right; hence, every citizen or group have a right to exercise the same.
Said Chome: “Every person has the right to demonstrate, so we will see what the vendors have presented to us and act accordingly.”
Tension has engulfed the country since May 27 when Ansah declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent. He was followed by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent with the country’s immediate past vice-president Saulos Chilima of UTM Party finishing third and ahead of four other aspirants with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent.
Chilima and Chakwera have since filed a petition seeking nullification of the presidential election results in the May 21 Tripartite Elections on the basis that there were irregularities, especially in the result management system.
HRDC has been holding a series of nationwide protests to force Ansah and her commissioners to resign for allegedly presiding over a flawed electoral process.