Outgoing Karonga district commissioner (DC) Emmanuel Bulukutu says the continued wave of post-election demonstrations has affected the council’s economic landscape as it mainly relies on local revenue such as market fees.
Speaking in an interview, he said the council’s general resource fund (GRF) only meets councillors’ honoraria, fuel and administrative issues while the local revenue caters for employees’ wages pegged at K11 million per month.
“Apart from salaries, we need to settle utility bills, gratuities, leave grants, fund service committee and full council meetings and other daily operations. For these expenses to be met, consumers and investors must meet at the market for investors to pay market fees,” said Bulukutu.
The DC said the average market collections is K155 000 a day, but during demonstrations the market is closed.
“Usually, about half of the traders operate the day after demonstrations and this results in us collecting below K70 000. Most traders also resist paying market fees citing lack of business,” he said.
Sharing the DC’s sentiments, Karonga resident Tionge Chile said he appreciates that it is everyone’s constitutional right to hold peaceful demonstrations, but said those spearheading the post-elections demonstrations (Human Rights Defenders Coalition-HRDC) should be mindful not to disturb other people’s businesses.
He has since advised HRDC Karonga chapter leaders to work with security agents to avoid inconveniencing businesses and looting of public property. However, the chapter’s chairperson Walusako Munde distanced his office from those people who loot and destroy both public and private property, saying when they organise demonstrations, they notify the police who in turn provide security.