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Lilongwe vendors standoff with police

6 February 2012

Vendors selling in undesignated areas of Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe were given seven days to get off the streets and sell in designated areas. That announcement was made two weeks after women were being stripped of their clothing, allegedly by vendors. The announced deadline followed an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to remove the vendors. Today marked the end of those seven days and the vendors did not leave quietly.

In the run-up to the final day, a flyer was being circulated and posted declaring that these same vendors would not leave the streets.


And this is a rough English translation:

(Source, but see this also.)

Of course, comparing oneself to Gaddafi is not a framing strategy we might think to be particularly effective, but it sure caught my attention. Also interesting in the statement is the accusation that Steven Malunga, the chairman of the Vendors Association of Tsoka Market, is in actuality part of the ruling party (DPP) machine.

Charles Kufa of online opposition news agency Nyasa Times has reported vendors in the Malangalanga area of Lilongwe faced off against riot police armed with rubber bullets and teargas. Raphael Tenthani for The Maravi Post reported 42 people were taken into police custody following the clashes.

Though we haven’t seen large-scale organized protests representative of Malawians since the July 20th demonstrations that left 22 dead (especially since civil society leaders keep canceling protests in the eleventh hour), there have been quite a few labor strikes in the country. Just in the past couple of months, we have seen workers at Shoprite go on strike (and then be fired and replaced), court staff go on strike, and now Malawi civil servants are reported to be planning to strike as well. And just today, Nyasa Times reported women in labor were being turned away from publicly funded Queen Elizabeth’s Central Hospital in Blantyre because employees are on strike over not being paid January salaries.


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