Traders of foreign origin – including the Chinese – in Mzimba district, northern Malawi, on Thursday were ordered not to open their shops following unspecified threats from local business people.

The locals want the foreigners to be vacated from the district headquarters accusing them of unfair trade practices.

The Malawian traders feel the foreigners sell their goods at lower prices hence having sustainable competitive advantage over them.

“Apart from that they are also doing small scale businesses meant for local. Can one fly all the way from China and open a restaurant in Mzimba. Such businesses are meant for us, if they are investors let them go to cities,” said one local business person.

Addressing the angry Malawian traders, District Commissioner Moses Chimphepo said the shops will remain temporary closed until the matter is resolved.

He said a final decision will be made after he meets officials from the immigration department, and ministries of Trade, Local government and Internal Affairs.

Mzimba Police Officer in Charge Joseph Chambuluka said the situation was manageable and threatens no peace in the district.

In May this year, angry residents in Dowa demolished shops belonging to Burundians also accusing them monopolizing business.

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