Malawians share mixed reactions over ongoing post-election protests

Malawians are sharing mixed reactions on the ongoing post-election protests with some especially from the business community backing the police ban for the demonstrations.

Organisers of the protests, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have challenged to continue organizing nation-wide demonstrations aimed at forcing Malawi Electoral Commission-MEC Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah to resign.

Speaking at a presser in Malawi’s Capital City Lilongwe on Monday, National Chairperson of HRDC, Timothy Mtambo said they would not relent to continue organizing demonstrations until Justice Jane steps down.

Mtambo said the next round of demonstrations— dubbed ‘1 million demonstrations—would take place on August 6, 2019, in Mzuzu, Blantyre and Lilongwe Cities.

During the previous demonstrations, several structures including a police unit were torched down by angry protestors.

They also torched several governments and ruling party structures as they returned from presenting their petition to authorities.

Police had to fire teargas to disperse the rioting protestors before soldiers from the Malawi Defense Forces-MDF intervened to quell the situation.

While many are supporting the HRDC decision, vendors claim the demonstrations have heavily affected them since some other their businesses have been targets for looters pretending to be demonstrators.

Last week, the vendors in Lilongwe held peaceful demonstrations to express their concerns on the impact of the post-election protests.

Zuza Gondwe, one of the business operators told Report Focus in Mzuzu City that the anti-Ansah protests are retrogressive to the country’s development agenda.

“To me, these demonstrations are meaningless,” says the vendor running a hawker in the city, “I don’t think they will yield any meaningful results.

“As you might have seen, as a country we are losing a lot. A lot of people are taking advantage of these demonstrations to vandalize and loot in other people’s shops. This is bad.”

But Asimenye Mkandawira a Mzuzu resident supports the demonstrations because they only show Malawians discontent on the May 21 general elections results.

“We will not relent until the MEC Chair resigns. She betrayed us. She failed to live up to our expectations as she did not properly manage our May 21 General elections,” he claimed.

His claims are backed by Khumbo Ngwira, another resident of the city who feels that Ansah does not love the country by sticking to her position despite being the centre of controversy.

“If she loved this country, she should have resigned by now but see what, she seems not to care of the country’s political standoff mainly caused by her,” he said.

But Commenting on the vendor’s concerns one of the organizers of the demonstrations in the northern part of Malawi, who is also a senior member of HRDC, Happy Mhango reiterated the position of his body that they always condemn violence while calling on police to deal with anyone who loots or vandalize property during the protests.

“We have always been asking the police to protect and safeguard life and property during these protests,” he said adding that “We don’t want anyone to take advantage of these protests to vandalize and loot in shops.”

Mhango who has always condemned criminal acts characterised the previous protests said he believes that the law-enforcers would bring to book all the perpetrators of violence.

People in this southern African nation led by human rights activists have been holding the demonstrations to force Ansah to resign for allegedly messing up the May 21, general elections.

Ansa, the MEC Chairperson and a Judge at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal are accused of messing up the results of the election in favour of President Peter Mutharika. She has, Howe, vowed not to resign until found guilty by the court.

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