With hours remaining before the much-publicised January 17 demonstrations, shop owners in the capital city have, this week, been busy putting security measures to their premises for fear of looting as was the case during the July 20, 2011 mass protests.
Shop owners along Malangalanga, Kamuzu Procession roads, Devil Street, as well as Bwalo La Njobvu have, for the past week, been seen putting burglar bars, electrical fence among other security measures around their premises just in case hell breaks loose.
In separate interviews with two shop owners, Mr. Chan Hau, a Chinese and Mr. Ibu Ibrahim, a Nigerian along Kamuzu Procession road; told me that they have put such security measures to avoid people who would have intentions of rooting as demonstration are taking place
So far, the mass action, championed by the Consumers Associan of Malawi (CAMA) continues to receive mixed reactions from all sectors of the society. The church and some political commentators have been calling on government and the consumer rights body to dialogue.
However, John Kapito, the brains behind the mass protests, has reiterated that the demonstrations are on tomorrow despite some of the organizers pulling out at the eleventh hour. He said the demonstrations are aimed at pushing government to address economic problems affecting the consumers, amongst them, the continued rising of prices of goods and services largely caused by the simultaneous devaluation and floatation of the local currency.
The Joyce Banda government insists that there is nothing that can be done now because the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) which it has put in place and under implementation will take time to bear meaningful results.
The mass protests coincide with the three-day state visit by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki who arrived in the country today. Kibaki is the second head of state to visit the landlocked country in a space of one day. African Union Chairperson and Benin president Dr Thomas Bon Yayi had a two-hour visit last night.
President Kibaki is expected to hold discussions with his Malawian counterpart President Mrs Joyce Banda, the business community as well as attend the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the bypass road from Mchinji road to the Blantyre-Lilongwe M1 road. He is also expected to lay a wreath at the former president Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s mausoleum at the city centre in Lilongwe.