The wheels of protest against Malawi Government’s economic policies that are biting consumers hard are gathering momentum.

Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) has joined the Consumers’ Association of Malawi (Cama) to mobilise people to stage a mass consumer protest in January.

This also follows endorsement of the intended strike last week by some Blantyre consumers.

Congoma board chairperson Voice Mhone confirmed in an interview on Saturday that the council is concerned about the continued devaluation of the kwacha which, he said, due to the floatation of the currency, is currently estimated to be at 101 percent from the 49 percent announced in May this year.

Mhone was quick to say that although Congoma advocated the devaluation of the kwacha, the council is not playing double standards, arguing the effects of the floatation of the kwacha have become unbearable to Malawians while government “adamantly keeps going on money-spinning errands”.

Said Mhone: “From the onset, the 49 percent devaluation was viewed and appreciated by all sectors, including the NGO community, as part of a panacea towards economic woes, but the populace’s main concern is on the fact that to date, it is no longer 49 percent, but rather 101 percent.”

Mhone argued the floatation of the kwacha as well as rising fuel pump prices have led to such high margin of the devaluation.

He also bemoaned that while fuel prices keep on rising, the commodity is scarce, forcing people to get the fuel through informal sources at high prices.

“Yet, this government seems to have had no equivalent cushions to protect consumers, more especially the poor,” said Mhone.

He said Congoma has decided to join hands with Cama because the consumer rights body is one of its members; hence, as a membership-driven body, Congoma wants to provide collective action and solidarity to its members.

Said Mhone: “The Governing Council of Congoma will be expected to play a supportive role and also provide both Cama and government different balancing options while still creating a space for the voiceless to speak and express themselves in their own legally accepted ways.”

Cama executive director John Kapito, who announced that the mass strike is likely to take place in January 2013, confirmed in a separate interview the involvement of Congoma in the mobilisation of the masses for the nationwide strike.

During a Cama meeting last week, he also claimed consumer representatives from Blantyre endorsed the mass strike.

But government spokesperson and Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu is on record to have said that as the situation stands at the moment, it would be uncalled for for anyone to call for a mass strike. He said in an interview last Wednesday that things have so far improved compared to eight months ago.

Kunkuyu said every right-minded Malawian can see how the country is moving now and the sort of hope Malawians now have that it would not be necessary to call for a strike to further improve the situation.

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