The Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has said a 21-day ultimatum given to government over economic hardship expires on February 15, but so far, government has not responded to the petition.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Cama said many consumers are demanding progress and action on the petition. Cama insisted that government’s response to the issues should be in writing.
Reads the statement in part: “We wish to inform all consumers in Malawi that we have not yet received any communication from government on the issues we raised and submitted to government in our January 17th 2013 petition.
“We believe and hope that before the 15th of February 2013, government will respond to the issues and engage us in discussions and dialogue over the issues we submitted on your behalf.”
Govt open for dialogue
But government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu, who is also Minister of Information and Civic Education, on Sunday said government is open to dialogue and ready to meet Cama.
Kunkuyu pleaded that Cama should not dictate time or insist that the response be in writing because government has already responded to concerns raised, citing trimming of the presidential motorcade and sale of the presidential jet as some examples.
He said: “If Cama insists that we write them to make the commitment, we can do that. But will it really make sense that every time we address one item, we should be writing them that presidential jet is on sale, and write again after sometime to say the presidential motorcade has been reduced, and write again on another action and go on like that? I do not think that will make sense.”
Kunkuyu also reiterated government’s commitment to addressing the issues raised. However, President Joyce Banda has declared she cannot stop floatation of the kwacha, one of the demands in Cama’s seven-point petition.
In the statement signed by its executive director John Kapito and three other coordinators for Central, Northern and Eastern regions, Cama said it was incumbent upon government to respect, provide space for discussion and dialogue or alternatively, respond and present its position on the issues raised in the petition in writing.
It reads: “We do appreciate the growing impatience and anxiety among many consumers who are continuously requesting our office to provide the latest position regarding the petition that we submitted.
“We are also aware that consumers throughout the country are proposing a number of actions in case government fails to respond, but as a consumer body, we are appealing and requesting all of you to refrain from any action before the deadline of the petition.”
Cama said when the deadline expires, it will engage the consumers to discuss and agree on the nature of action to be undertaken whether government responds or not.
The consumers, among others, asked the President to stop floatation of the kwacha and manage it, stop numerous internal and external travels by the President and her Cabinet members and to increase salaries of all civil servants to cushion them from the devaluation of the kwacha.