Consumer rights activist John Kapito, the man behind the planned January 17 2013 demonstrations in Malawi, said on Monday an opportunity for dialogue with government closed after expiry of the consumers’ 14-day ultimatum.
Kapito, who is executive director of the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama), told journalists in Blantyre that even if government were to call for dialogue now, the consumers would not make a U-turn. He said such a last-minute move would be a recipe for chaos as consumers were ready to take to the streets come January 17.
Said Kapito: “We submitted our seven-point petition to government through the Chief Secretary to the President, using courier, and gave government 14 days to respond. We never got any response and the 14-day period expired. As it stands, there is no room for dialogue.”
Kapito made the statement as drama unfolded at the news conference where chairperson for the Southern Region organising committee for the demonstrations, comedian MacXiting Mdoka, in response to a question from a journalist on why Cama could not listen to calls for dialogue, suggested to go for dialogue. Mdoka, who was trembling and unsteady throughout the news conference, suggested that dialogue should be given a chance. His comment caught Kapito unawares.
Mdoka confessed meeting Malawi’s ruling People’s Party (PP) publicity secretary Hophmally Makande in Blantyre, but, still trembling and shedding tears at times, denied receiving any kickbacks to change his mind.
He said he was receiving threats and feared arrest if the demonstrations turn violent, property damaged or lives lost.
Makande, in a separate interview, admitted meeting Mdoka, but said they never discussed anything to do with the demonstrations.
Kapito, in disbelief at his colleague’s U-turn at the news conference, was at a loss for words and referred to Mdoka as the biblical Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ.
Last week, Kapito also lost another key organiser, Kingsley Mabalani.
Kapito said the demonstrations are part of dialogue and the consumers would not accept a round-table dialogue because President Joyce Banda has openly said her administration cannot reverse floatation of the kwacha; she cannot declare her assets; and she cannot stop frequent local and external travels, among others.
Mdoka, before he pulled out, told journalists the demonstrations in Blantyre would start from Kanjedza Primary School in Limbe.