Lockdown Endorsed by Traditional Leaders

By Esnath Kalawe

Chiefs in the country have rallied behind government decision for a 21-day lockdown to control spread of the Coronavirus in the country.

The lockdown was to commence Saturday, March 18, 2020 at midnight but was suspended after Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) obtained a court injunction restraining government to implement it before putting necessary measures to assist citizens while on lockdown.

However, last Friday, Chiefs from all the three regions in the country converged at Bridge View Lodge in Lilongwe where they briefed journalists of their support to government decision to implement the lockdown.

In an interview, Senior Chief Kapeni of Blantyre told journalists that as community leaders, they need to work with government to enforce regulations it has made in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

“We share information with the community to enforce the regulations that have been made in the wake of COVID-19.

“As traditional leaders, it is our responsibility that information is shared to people we live with within our locality,” the chief said.

According to Kapeni, chiefs have a big role to play in their communities and, therefore, need to understand the context being communicated on the lockdown.

He said it will then be easy for them to relay the same to people and for them to comply.

“Let us follow the procedures to contain the pandemic despite different poverty levels and political affiliations because Coronavirus is real,” he said.

The chief said some regulations are made for specified period of time for the good of the people.

Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa said they would identify a place in their localities designated for implementing stipulated measures to contain and manage COVID-19 cases with the help of health personnel.

“If we are not going to comply with the regulations on precautionary measures, people will regard us as failures.

“Chiefs at local level shall identify an area for quarantine at community level, just in case some might be identified that are infected with the virus,” said the Paramount Chief.

Senior Chief Tsabango, Dzoole, Khongoni, Lukwa, Chowe, Kasakula and Khombedza were among those that were present during the meeting.

Others were Paramount Chief Kawinga of Machinga, Senior Chief Kameme from Chitipa and Inkosi Mabilabo of Mzimba.

So far, the lockdown has been granted a seven days injunction by the court after Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) filled an application.

The lockdown would restrict movements of people in order to control the spread of the virus.

According to Minister of Health’s statement issued on April 14, several countries, including Malawi’s neighbours have already imposed such and said it has worked in curtailing the new infections.-MANA

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