Members of the Reformed Timber Millers Union (RTMU) will today hold protests in Viphya Plantation after failed discussions with government over timber business.
The RTMU has teamed up with some chiefs to query government for allegedly favouring foreign concessionaires over locals in the timber processing business in Viphya Plantation in Mzimba and Nkhata Bay districts.
Since July 31, they have met Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bintony Kutsaira twice, but RTMU claims the meetings have yielded nothing; hence, the protests.
Speaking to the media in Mzuzu on Monday, RTMU president Paul Nthambazale said the demonstrations are aimed at expressing dismay on government’s conduct for allegedly giving business to foreign-owned companies at the expense of local companies and traders.
He said: “This conduct is contrary to principles under the new Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act of 2017 which gives 60 percent to indigenous black Malawians when it comes to the procurement of goods and services by government.”
The demonstrations will start at 10am from Gwayi to Chikangawa Forestry Office after which some RTMU members will drive to Mzimba and Nkhata Bay district council offices to deliver petitions. Then a vigil will be held at Chikangawa Forestry Office from August 20 to 23.
Meanwhile, Senior Chief Mtwalo of Mzimba has said chiefs were concerned with how business was being conducted in Chikangawa Forest.
“We are here to help them wherever they want to go with the issue. It is painful that our sons and daughters are not benefiting from the plantation. We need to correct this,” he said. While confirming that Kutsaira has met RTMU before, Ministry of Energy spokesperson Sangwani Phiri said he was not aware of the protests.