Police in Lilongwe today tear-gassed over 300 teachers for staging a peaceful demonstration over their delayed honoraria payment by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
The concerned teachers from Lilongwe Rural East, Lilongwe Urban and Lilongwe Rural West are demanding that MEC pays them their honoraria for their involvement in the polling exercise during the May 20 Tripartite Elections, an exercise that lasted more than the scheduled eight days.
But just after halfway to the DC’s office from Lilongwe Town Hall where they converged, the teachers met their fate.
They have since warned government that unless they get their honoraria, they will stop administering the ongoing MSCE exams.
In an interview just after police foiled their demonstration, Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) vice-treasurer general, Rabson Chilambula, condemned the police’s overzealousness.
According to Chilambula, the teachers were trying to express their anger over the delayed payment of their honoraria.
“The police should not be here, we notified them in time and here they are tear-gassing us, what does this mean? All the teachers want is our money, that’s all,” he said.
Lilongwe Police officer-in-charge, Richard Luhanga, said that the teachers did not follow the 48-hour rule of notifying the police.
“The teachers need to discuss this with MEC and not take this to the streets because they are causing public disorder” he said.
But in a letter made available to Weekend Nation dated 3 July 20 14 and copied to the officer-in-charge, Lilongwe Police, TUM wrote: “Following the letter addressed to MEC, and Civic house dated third July 2014 in which we expressed our stand of petitioning the above offices, we would like to confirm that on the 11 of July 2014, teachers are demonstrating and we shall start from the Lilongwe Town Hall at 9am.”
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa attributed the delay of payment to a mix-up of bank accounts which he, said, will be sorted out.
“Some teachers have received their money, but it’s just a small percentage of teachers which did not receive their honoraria” he said.