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Saturday, June 15, 2024
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CHAKWERA’S OWN GOAL ON COVID 19: Time to wise up!

BY FYSON CHODZI

Tonse Administration’s handling of Covid 19 is not only reprehensible but confirms that it’s easier to be a critic than manage a crisis. Resigning to fate just because it’s a second wave or new strain of Covid is a miserable attempt to bury the head in the sand like an ostrich. Whether this is the second, third, or twentieth wave, as long as the basics of preventing and dealing with Covid are the same, it doesn’t matter.

The whole world knows that the basics of dealing with covid are;

1) Social distancing;

2) Masking Up; and

3) Hygiene Practices. As simple as they are, the three issues are becoming somewhat tricky to carry out in Malawi. The bulk of failure to implement these 3 basic things stops at the political leaders in Malawi.Tonse should have gotten it right!

If the criticism and opposition that the current leaders levelled at the past administration of Peter Mutharika is anything to go by, one would have expected that the Tonse Government would have gotten their act together and deal decisively with Covid 19.

Both Chakwera and Chilima never missed an opportunity to voice out their disdain at the way the past administration was handling the issue of Covid. Now that they are in power, the strangest part is that they have either done little or just similar to what was already done.

Let’s unpack some of the issues said then and how they have been done to date;

i. Mutharika was criticized of appointing a Cabinet minister to lead the Covid fight, and that updates were being presented by Minister of Health as a Chairperson, fast forward to 2021, the Committee is also chaired by Minister of Health and does the updates. The only departure is that the daily statements are signed by a Committee Co-Chair who is a technocrat.

ii. The duo criticized Mutharika of failing to prioritize PPEs and Ventilators. Fast Forward to January 2021 the situation on PPE remains unchanged. The difference between then and now, is that then the Doctors and nurses were politically mobilized to stage strikes in demanding the PPEs and the newspapers carried headlines shouting ‘Lack of PPEs’. In January 2021, the Doctors and nurses have no PPE and the captured forth arm of Government, the Media, can only put the story on Page 2 of the newspaper.

iii. Mutharika administration was urged to turn idle state residences into Covid 19 Isolation centres, fast forward to January 2021, the state residences are still idle and the hospitals are still overwhelmed.

Mutharika’s administration was accused of not closing the borders and allowed importation of Covid to Malawi and fast forward to January 2021, the borders are still allowing returning citizens to come back to Malawi just as it was in the past and with them some Covid is being imported.

Undermining the basics

 When cabinet ministers that have been entrusted to lead us on covid-19 fight fail to comply with simple prevention measures

It’s a pity that as a country we don’t want to hold people accountable for their actions, but with Covid 19 people must own up to their mistakes and where possible make amends. It was careless for a politician of high stature to tell people to hug each other as they can’t give each other covid, tell supporters that all the news about covid was false as we couldn’t see dead bodies, or telling people that Covid has not arrived in Malawi. These and allowing activities that undermined social distance is what has brought us to this date.

Months ago when the covid prevention measures were introduced, a politically motivated court order was sought to stop the implementation of the measures. The actions done some months ago have developed a huge repercussion today on how the Government can enforce the measures of dealing with covid.

Just when the Government was reintroducing the measures, another court order was taken stopping the measures. It’s a pity that today we can’t enforce basic things that would save thousands of lives of Malawians just because we allowed political expediency to take over reasoning and health of the people.

To this day, it’s a shame to see the Government bowing down to minibus drivers demand to increase capacity in Minibuses which eventually defeats the whole social distance agenda.Presently, it’s very difficult to enforce the basics since it seems right from the President himself, breaking the rules is as easy as ABCD.

It is easier to lead by example and actions than words but so far the Government and Presidency has failed to live by in as far as dealing with Covid 19 is concerned;

o How do you expect Malawians to observe social distance when the President and influential leaders take a photo shoot without mask and not observing social distance?

o How do you expect Malawian to stop shaking hands and observe social distance when the President is seen shaking hands with a Pop Singer at State House, no mask and no distance?

o How can the people take social distance seriously when Cabinet Ministers and Presidential advisors are busy patronizing and hosting music festivals which throws all caution to the dogs in as far as Covid 19 is concerned?

o How do you convince the minibus drivers to observe social distance when carrying passengers yet Police Officers continue to overcrowd the vehicles they are using when going for Operations?

o How do you convince the people about social distance when the ruling MCP is allowed to throw a party on the New Year’s Eve which defeats the entire notion of social distance?

It’s time to change the approach

My sincere plea to Chakwera is to demonstrate the leadership which he used to decry of Mutharika. He accused Mutharika of being an absentee president on Covid and the events of the last week has shown that he is an equally absentee leader himself.

Even the speech made today has just worsened the situation. The speech does not provide leadership, hope and direction for the country. It is a speech coming from a person who has resigned to fate.

The Speech should have outlined new measures on dealing with Covid. The threat levels are higher now and we cannot continue doing what we are doing and hoping it will produce results.

The President should have outlined the state of affairs on Covid fight. Issues of test kits, helping the front line workers, the students who are currently in schools, the issues of PPE etc.

Mr. President, you can’t wish away Covid 19, or just call the ‘Holy Ghost Fire’ and it’s done. Tough times calls for tougher solutions Mr. President.

The President must take action and meet the head of the Judiciary and Parliament in order to bring sanity in the other branches of the Government.

It’s my humble opinion that there is a continued judicial overreach on issues of Covid as the orders emanating from the courts are proving costly and dangerous. There comes a time that as a country we have to make tough choices and sometimes we have to look at a doctrine of necessity.

Chakwera must ensure that all the measures about covid are being applied across everyone and not selectively. It will defeat the purpose if we demand locals to go to a funeral of 50 people and yet the funerals of the politically connected and the elite has thousands of people in attendance.

Similarly, unlike the politically charged 2020 presidential elections, there is no justification whatsoever to allow MEC to continue exposing Malawians to covid 19 just to hold by-elections.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) as a bedfellow to Tonse administration must be urged to remove the court order it sought against the Government on Covid 19 measures. We all know that the injunction was political and served its purpose and now we need to move forward in combating the Virus.

Based on the radicalism that Malawians have been indoctrinated in the last 20 or so months, it will take the same zeal and energy from the politicians who misled Malawians about Covid to convince them otherwise.

Politicians in Tonse who undermined Covid efforts, who were busy saying there is no Covid, should do the most honorable thing and swallow their pride and tell Malawians they were wrong and urge the country to change ways.

Whether we choose to ignore or bury our head in the sand, history has a way of humbling even the cleverest of them all. The problem is that whatever was said is part of the archives.

If we don’t contain Covid 19 now and it becomes a run-away serial killer for thousands of Malawians, all the goodwill that Tonse Government has will evaporate.

People will demand answers and unfortunately the blame will still go to the doorstop of Tonse Leaders. If we can’t contain the virus now, no amount of spin will save us from the backlash of our actions as politicians in the surge of Covid.

It’s time to redeem ourselves from the mistakes we have done so far.

May the real Chakwera, Please stand up!

May the real Chilima, Please Stand up!

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1 COMMENT

  1. Its a piteous moment to see how nCov is handled and the way the mercenary scribers are selflessly defending the blatant campaign lies vomited on political podium in the run up to politically court sunctioned fresh presidential polls. How on earth could they tell us, shamelessly, not to take seriously their political god fathers? Did they realize how powerful their lies were? Their redicalized youth created all sorts of stories to back up them. Do you remember jappie´s created video clip of carrying coffins in st jones ambulance and palading them in the north trying to vindicate himself as the then covid co-chair? It was all created by tonse`s IT wizards to justify their foolish lies. Now some stupid guy is telling us not to take them seriously. What about the created bloated allowance sheet saulo was making public rants of that the cabinet ministers and the government were making lies in the name of covid to share donor funds while on the other side of the rally soldier was playing “musanamidzire matenda a edzi adzakulangani…ana amasiye ndiye nyambo yopezera chuma…oooho oooho oooho oooho oooho!”, all in the name of down playing all efforts put in place to combat this deadly virus which is now transforming into deadly forms. Its high time we strategize and politicians must be more careful not to politicize pandemics, its really very deadly and they must be answerable for their recklessness because there is no difference to actions perpetrated by those indicted by the ICCJ. My suggestion is, all political lies that could risk people`s lives must be labelled as criminal and worthy taken to ICCJ. There is need to protect human life at all cost.

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