Business stalls

Business operating environment has since last Tuesday been subdued largely due to the after-effects of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

On Tuesday last week, Malawians went to the polls to vote for councillors, members of Parliament and a President, and since then, business has been slow.

A snap survey in the country’s cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu revealed that some businesses have taken a wait-and-see approach while others have reduced operating hours and some business decisions.

Business has been slow particularly in Limbe, Blantyre

Business News observations show that some shops are not opening for business while those open are poorly patronised.

The number of shoppers patronising the markets is also lower than usual.

In an interview, Esnart Kamanga, who sells second-hand clothes in Limbe, Blantyre said: “These few days have been bad for business because we are just not sure as to when this whole electoral process will come to an end.

“Business has also been slow because there are not many people coming to buy our goods.”

In Blantyre Central Business District, one of the imported used vehicle dealers Humphrey Banda said he cannot display his vehicles as he is not sure of the business  environment.

“I have my usual selling spot in Blantyre, but as it is now, I cannot confidently take my cars there because there is tension in town due to the elections which is not good for my business. I wish this was over so that we could go back to our normal lives,” he said.

Small and Medium Enterprises Chamber executive secretary James Chiutsi said yesterday that many small and medium enterprises are finding it hard to survive as they have also scaled down on production.

“Take for instance those hawkers in town and the women who sell bananas; they cannot move about freely because of the post- election fever which means a cut in their earnings,” he said.

Big businesses have also not been spared from this ordeal.

Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira yesterday observed businesses are at a standstill.

He observed that failure to release presidential results in time has made the business environment uncertain.

“It is even difficult now to plan ahead and even make any decisions because most of the decisions made will be subject to the political environment the direction of which lies in the choice of a candidate. 

“For now, meetings are being deferred and the future is not yet clear. There was hope at first but now the direction that the elections have taken is creating a big problem for us and to us, the more this stays, the more it brings disaster to businesses. It is unfortunate that most of the people rely on businesses for their day to day survival and if people are not able to do their businesses, imagine what this is doing to their livelihood,” he said.

In the May 2014 Tripartite Elections, business mood was subdued despite the election being largely peaceful. In the May 2009 polls, businesses were not spared of the election fever with major shops having skeleton staff and banks closing for businesses.

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