Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati has said protesters of the University of Malawi (Unima) fee hike who included students and civil society organisations (CSOs) were miserable lot despite forcing President Peter Mutharika to order a K50 000 reduction in the fees from a minimum of K400 000 to K350 000 per student per year.
The protesters marched in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba before petitioning the President to act on the Unima fee hike with urgency.
Kaliati said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that poor turn out of protestors in the nationwide demonstration show that the organisers “missed the point” and thanked Malawians for shunning the street protests.
“ The numbers were miserable because Malawians understand that any concerns need to be resolved by dialogue, and not politicising everything by going to the streets,” said Kaliati.
Kaliati, who is also government spokesperson, said the Mutharika administration is is aware that the organisers of the “miserable demonstrations” wanted to use University fees as an excuse to pursue a “desperate agenda of mobilising a national political revolt. “
She said: “This has not worked. The movement has collapsed because Malawians are reasonable.”
Said the Information Minister: “Listening to the sentiments of the organisers, their issues are scattered and they do not make sense. These are political machinations that wanted to chance a ride on the back of innocent University students. They have failed. “
Kaliati claimed Malawians have rejected “blackmail” protests.
“As Government, we would like to ask any Malawian with concerns to present a credible agenda and we will attend to it,” said Kaliati.
But Youth and Society executive director Charles Kajoloweka, protest organiser, said their issues were plausible, urgeing President Mutharika to prioritise issues that can contribute to the country’s development.
Kajoloweka said the proposed fee hike would affect development as many students from economically poor backgrounds will fail to access tertiary education.
Kaliati nonetheless went on praise singing for President Mutharika for being “a listening leader” and arriving at a compromise with the University of Malawi students over fees.
“We are proud that Malawi has a true democrat under whose leadership citizens are free to express themselves, including through demonstrations,” stated Kaliati.
Government , according to Kaliati, also commend the members of the Malawi Police Service who were in action “for demonstrating yet again that we have a professional police service that has undertaken to respect the right of the people to demonstrate.”
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