Protesters of the University of Malawi (Unima) fee hike yesterday said President Peter Mutharika’s perceived “lack of interest” on the calls from students and civil society organisations (CSOs) to resolve the issue is a dent on his leadership.
The protesters, mostly members of CSOs, marched in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba before petitioning the President to act on the Unima fee hike with urgency.
Ironically, the President met student leaders at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe yesterday and ordered a K50 000 reduction in the fees from a minimum of K400 000 to K350 000 per student per year.
During the Mzuzu march which had heavy presence of armed police, few people turned up led by Youth and Society executive director Charles Kajoloweka. They presented the petition to the President through Mzuzu City Council chief executive officer McLoud Kadammnja.
In their petition, the CSOs urged the President to prioritise issues that can contribute to the country’s development, arguing that the proposed fee hike would affect development as many students from economically poor backgrounds will fail to access tertiary education.
Speaking after receiving the petition, Kadammanja said he will travel to Lilongwe to deliver the petition in person to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
Politician Dan Msowoya, who took part in the march, said government does not seem to know how to set its priorities right; hence, needs to be pushed on what to do.
However, he commended the police for providing security and conducting themselves in a professional manner.
Northern Region Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya said police were only ensuring order. He said it is the duty of police to protect demonstrators, property and the general public in such events.