President Lazarus Chakwera, former head of the Malawi Assemblies of God, one of the largest Christian denominations in the country, has called upon Malawians to go into three days of prayer when churches are supposed to be closing and observing social distance with the crisis-hit country now suffering one of the highest infection rate in the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Chakwera has since pleaded with religiously-inclined citizens to join him in observing three days of fasting and prayer from Thursday to Saturday, against the spread and impact of the virus pandemic.
Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako, who is also government spokesperson, in a statement said the prayers are being called upon for the recovery of those infected and affected by the virus; the protection and susteinance of healthcare workers on the frontline in the fight against the pandemic.
The statement further calls upon the country’s citizenry to again join the President on Sunday 19th July in observing a National Day of Thanksgiving with a vision of creating an opportunity within our homes and religious gatherings across the nation in expressing gratitude to God for the grace he has showered upon the nation.
Chakwera’s aide Sean Kampondeni said while the 65-year-old President is a preacher, he does not want to turn Malawi into a theocracy and neither does he want to proselytise.
Government is also calling for strict adherence to the Covid -19 preventive measures during these religious gatherings.
However, some people have been quick to observe that President has run out of clues and resigned to fate or that the call to prayers is only a PR stunt to divert public attention from his policy failures.
On Monday, the Attorney General Dr Chikosa Silungwe stopped the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus from enforcing any safety measures.
In response, Professor John Phuka who co-chairs the Committee appealed in a statement to Malawians to “use your common sense to protect yourself and your loved ones”. Most public health officials have backed the Professor and said government has abandoned Malawians.
Chakwera and his political allies have been downplaying the issue of Coronavirus in Malawi.
Meantime, the whole country has run out of testing materials with hospitals also running short of protective gear for medical staff. The numbers are rising high and deaths increasing.
Malawi is now the second country in the SADC region with the highest number of virus cases next to South Africa – the eighth highest in the world .
As of 12 July, the number of virus fatalities increased by 63 per cent from 19 in the past week to 38.
Returnees and deportees continued to arrive in the country mainly from South Africa and so far the country has received 1,977 returnees.