Chitipa Communities Put Foot Down Against MRA Presence
Communities in Chitipa have vowed not to allow MRA staff return to Mbirima Border Post to resume tax collection until their demand on upgrading of Chitipa/Mbirima road is fulfilled.
This is according to district Civil Society Organizations Chairperson Sydney Simwaka who insists that the citizens want to see action and not mere rhetoric.
The citizens' stand is despite a interface which they had with top government officials including give cabinet ministers on Friday.
About two weeks have now elapsed since the Malawi Revenue Authority bowed down to pressure by concerned citizens of Chitipa to evacuate its staff from Mbirima Border Post where Malawi shares her boundary with Tanzania.
The evacuation according to the people is an inducement for government to upgrade the Chitipa/Mbirima road.
During the Friday meeting citizens of Chitipa took advantage of the gathering to tear government apart for a litany of alleged inefficiencies by government.
The ministers who comprised ,Jappie Mhango, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Ralph Jooma, Mark Botomani and deputy minister, Mungasuwa Mwambande, had a tough time responding to questions from representatives of the concerned business community.
Thorny issues that took centre stage included the chitipa/Nthalire road, Chitipa/Mbirima road, stadium, market and bus depot projects which the government was accused of promising but to no avail.
The people insisted that MRA staff will not be allowed to resume operations at Mbirima Border Post until their demand on upgrading of Chitipa/Mbirima road is met.
Chairperson for the business community in the district Michael Masebo wonderd why the district was allegedly experiencing little or no development from government.
“We are also part of Malawi. To our dismay you have always sidelined us on developmental matters,”' said Masebo amid hand clapping from the audience.
Speaking in an interview later, leader of the government delegation during the talks Mhango asked residents of the district to refrain from interfering with the operations of government agencies.
“That (Mbirima border) plays two crucial roles. It helps in tax collection which adds a little something to the development people want and it is also for security purposes,” said Mhango.
He could however not indicate when the border would be restaffed with MRA for taxation operations to resume saying such was an administrative matter by MRA.
In a separate interview with Sydney Simwaka who was one of the people's representatives however, he insisted that upgrading of the road remains a precondition for presumption of MRA's operations at the border.
The total customs collection from customs is K24 billion per month according to MRA's corporate affairs director, Steve Kapoloma.