By; Vincent Gunde
Internet and mobile phone users, have accused Telecommunication providers, TNM and Airtel of failing to reduce internet, mobile phone calls and text messages charges down and affordable for the benefit of the majority of Malawians in the country.
TNM Chief Executive Officer[ CEO], Michiel Buitelaar, announced a 70 percent reduction on Pay as you Go basis, describing this as a big cut by the company’s business, contrary to the appeal for affordable charges in Malawi by four organizations; CHRR, CIPESA, YAS and HREP in view of the Covid -19 pandemic restrictions.
In the appeal to Government, the four organizations noted with deep concerns that currently the internet is priced beyond the reach of the majority of Malawians observing that Malawi has lower levels of internet access as compared with the bordering countries such as Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania.
However, the quest for Data must Fall has been received with mixed reactions of total disagreements with what TNM has offered as reductions to its charges saying the two mobile companies, TNM and Airtel are reaping more from Malawians warning Government that if this is not urgently checked, Malawians will continue to suffer at the expense of still holding on to these two mobile phone companies to continue operating in Malawi.
John Kafanikhale, a Private school teacher in Lilongwe, reminded TNM, and Airtel that Malawians suffered for a one full year fighting electoral justice and these two companies should not force them to go back into the streets protesting for reduced charges.
Kafanikhale says most of the private schools teachers have gone without pay for 5 months now since March this year, saying they are not the only ones, even those in private sectors are also facing the same challenges and cannot hold on their tempers in a campaign for Data must Fall campaign in Malawi.
One of the politician speaking on condition of anonymity, asked TNM and Airtel management to respect the views of the four organizations which penned government over reduction of charges saying these companies are siding with Malawians.
,,,’’ When people said Data must Fall, they meant bundles not[ pay as you go]’’, ….remarked a politician.
The politician is advising TNM and Airtel that if they cannot afford to reduce the charges further as per their announcement, it’s better for them to’’ Pack and Go’’, appealing to Government to find other mobile phone companies to replace TNM and Airtel which have overstayed in Malawi and are resisting change to meet the demands of majority of Malawians in Data must Fall.