There was drama and confusion at the Lilongwe City Shopping mall owned by the Press Trust when civilian police invaded the premises and started shooting in the air in order to arrest vendors alleged to be trading foreign currency illegally.
This took place around noon on Thursday September 6 2012. According to eye witnesses there has been a heavy presence of civilian police since Monday. It is believed Thursday was the day for operation.
This brought business to a standstill as the retail shops operating in the mall like Spar, Game, Mr. Price, Gallitos, Pizza Inn, Pep amongst others had to temporarily suspend business. During the raid over five people suspected to be forex dealers were arrested.
This has come at a time when the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) reported that the country’s foreign reserves fell to its lowest level only representing an import cover of 0.96 months wall below the recommended 3months cover. This is contained in the RBM’s Money Market Statistics Report of September 3 2012.
Countries are expected to maintain a minimum of three months’ worth of imports if they are to protect themselves from crises. Malawi’s present situation is so precarious considering that the landlocked southern African country is a predominantly importing country and with the tobacco selling season almost over.