Human rights activist Billy Mayaya is organising protests to take place in Lilongwe on March 10 to petition government over the current food crisis.
Speaking in an interview Monday, Mayaya said the demonstrations which will start from Kamuzu Central Hospital roundabout to Parliament aims at compelling government to increase availability and access to maize as soon as possible.
He said even though tons of maize have started arriving in the country from neighbouring countries, the demonstrations will go ahead saying government has come in too late and that the stock which is coming in is very low meaning that people will still be struggling to get maize.
On October 27 last year Mayaya organized demonstrations in Lilongwe to express anger over dwindling health service delivery in the country but only a handful of people attended.
Asked on whether he has made proper sensitization this time around, Mayaya said “we don’t force people to take part, it has to do with their consciousness, we are going to hold the demonstrations in our individual capacity as concerned citizens and I believe all those who feel strongly about this food crisis issue will come out to join us.”
Mayaya further said he sees no reason to engage in dialogue with government before going to the street as the people will only be exercising their constitutional right.
“There is no reason for me to have a talk with government over this, after all it has not yet responded to the petitions we presented in the past. We feel the only way to force government into action is by holding demonstrations,” he said.
Mayaya said he was ready to challenge the police or anybody who might try to block the demonstrations.
Responding to the news, government spokesperson Jappie Mhango described the demonstrations as a waste of time saying government is already addressing the issue of food shortage in the country.
He however said Malawi is a democratic country and Mayaya is free to exercise his rights.
“He should go on with the demonstrations, whether alone or with few friends but if he thinks the maize government is importing is not enough he himself should bring in his,” said Mhango.