Some members of the organising committee of the January 17 consumer protests, including spokesperson Kingsley Mabalani, have pulled out, saying they want to give dialogue with government a chance.
But Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said he is not fazed by the turn of events.
The concerned members, who said they are all members of the Network of Patriots (Nepa) whose president is Mabalani, made the announcement during a media conference in Lilongwe.
“As members of Nepa, we had interest to support the demonstrations with the total conviction that it is proper and the right of every Malawian to hold such demonstrations. However, we have thought it wise that we have to give dialogue a chance,” said Mabalani, who was accompanied by nine Nepa members.
He said Nepa believes that it is only through dialogue that the country can solve its problems and move forward.
Mabalani, who has been outspoken in advancing the cause of the demonstrations, said the withdrawal involves all 10 Nepa members who were in the main committee of the demonstrations.
“This means that I shall no longer speak on behalf of the committee. This is our conviction and we cannot stop anyone from going ahead with the demonstrations but we believe that those who are against dialogue have ulterior motives,” he added.
Mabalani also said secretary of the national organising committee Tamvalero Zakumbuyo, who was not present at the briefing, has also pulled out of the protests.
He dismissed suggestions that the group might have been approached by government to make the announcement in exchange for monetary favours.
Asked whether the group will approach government for the dialogue process, Mabalani said since government already expressed interest to have dialogue, the announcement of the withdrawal was aimed at paving the way for government to make further approaches.
“But in the event that government does nothing, we are going to go ahead and initiate the process ourselves,” he added.
Kapito said as far as Cama was concerned, the only member of the organising committee was Mabalani.
“He did not approach us on his move but he just called me to say that he was getting threats from some people. In fact, we already told him some time back to stop talking on behalf of the organising committee and leave it to regional committees which can now speak on their own,” he said.
Kapito said the organisers are not worried with the development, arguing that Mabalani was just one of the many interested consumers who wanted to participate in the marches.
Cama is championing the January 17 demonstrations against government’s failure to address the current economic challenges.