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Consumers Association calls for peaceful January 17 protests

The Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) which is organising demonstrations tomorrow has called for peaceful protests in all the three regions of the country.

"Our appeal to consumers is to participate in the demonstrations peacefully and get our message to the leadership. The demonstrations will take place in the three regions in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, and Blantyre," reads the statement released yesterday and signed by Cama Executive Director John Kapito.

Cama says the current escalating commodity prices, the ever changing commodity prices, the continued executive arrogance, poor and low salaries for workers, high levels of executive corruption are some of the issues that should encourage allconsumers to come out and demonstrate peacefully.

According to the statement, consumers in Mzuzu will converge at Katoto Secondary School ground at 8am and proceed to Mzuzu City Assembly Offices through the clock tower and then back to Katoto Secondary school.

In Blantyre, consumers will converge at Kanjedza Primary School Ground at 8am march through the Kenyatta Drive Road to Blantyre City Assembly Offices where the petition will be presented.

In Lilongwe, consumers will meet at the District Commissioners Office in Area 3 at 8am.

"We are reques t ing al l consumers participating in the demonstrations to march peacefully and ensure that we remain to be responsible," says Cama.

Meanwhile, shop owners in Limbe, the commercial hub of Blantyre City, say they are considering employing extra security measures in case of the demonstrations scheduled for tomorrow turning violent.

Managing Director for Vachhan and sons Wholesalers, who could only identify himself as Vachhan, said he would not count on promises that the demonstrations would be peaceful.

"I will employ extra security measures for my shop because although there are promises of peace the real situation tends to turn out horrible," he said, adding that he doubted whether the demonstration would lead to the change of things for the better.

He admitted that the economic situation in Malawi has been difficult following the devaluation of kwacha and he was of the view that whatever efforts the government tries add nothing to the buying power and indicate shops are paying the price.

"Many people do nothing for a living. Therefore, erosion of buying power is exacerbated by high dependency in the extended family set up. You can even see for yourself how dull the town is. Shops are rarely patronized nowadays," he said.

Supervisor for Hong Ze Trading, Peter Silva, said he wished the organisers of the demonstrations had exhausted all channels of engagement to resolve the consumers' grievances.

"We lose money once demonstrations take place. Last time [on July 20, 2011] we lost business because we did not open for two days and this time we won't open again," he lamented.

Owner of Asha Wholesalers who identified himself as Taakral echoed Silva's sentiments.

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