Malawi’s estranged State Vice President Saulos Chilima has said citizens’ loss of trust in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government is affecting the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In his televised address on issues of national importance on Sunday evening, Chilima said that it is clear that majority of Malawians are not trusting information on Convid-19 from government officials which is undermining efforts to fight the pandemic.
“It is clear to everyone that government faces serious deficit of trust among majority of Malawians. The public reaction to information from the government on Covid-19 proves one key thing -the public does not recognise the current leadership as a credible source of information,” said Chilima.
His comments comes after Lilongwe City South West legislator Ulemu Msungama and Kaliyeka ward councillor Richard Banda, who is also deputy mayor of Lilongwe, doubted the authenticity of the Covid-19 results and questioned the manner in which the whole process was conducted in Lilongwe.
This led to Lilongwe City Council (LCC) inviting relevant stakeholders, who included the district health officer (DHO), Malawi Defence Force (MDF), police and the city’s MPs—Msungama, Alfred Jiya and Nancy Tembo—to find a way forward on the Kaliyeka issue, where medical staff are supposed to collect blood samples and trace contacts of those suspected to have interacted with positive cases.
Malawi needs unifying leader
In his national address, Chilima said the loss of trust hampers government’s efforts to fight the pandemic as people cannot cooperate and this leads to people ignoring measures to combat the pandemic.
The Veep said the fight against coronavirus should be owned by Malawians, warning that the current luck of trust by the public will lead to disaster.
Chilima said the nation now requires a unifying leader, who is not absent from duties, but takes a non-partisan leading role in the fight against the pandemic.
“President[Peter Mutharika should, for once, demonstrate leadership by inviting opposition leaders, civil society leaders, religious leaders, captains of the industry and even celebrities to be part of the national response,” he said.
Malawi’s government has been publicly criticised for its response to the pandemic, particularly its decision to set up a Covid-19 committee consisting only of ministers from the ruling party.
Chilima then condemned some Cabinet ministers who he said are hell bent on eroding the little trust by organising public rallies while people are being chased from churches during worship.
“How can people trust the government then?”
Chilima said nobody should use Covid-19 pandemic to gain political mileage.
“The stakes are way too high for us to be grandstanding and seeking to gain political advantage out of this,” he said.
He also rapped some ministers who are also directly involved in procuring resources for Covid-19 such as personal protective equipment.
On impending lockdown, Chilima said there is need to first put the house in order before effecting the nationwide lockdown, stressing that the lockdown that government announced and challenged by human rights groups was not well thought after and was rushed.
Last week, demonstrations took place throughout the country protesting against the lockdown which is feared by a majority population as being more dangerous than the pandemic itself.
Chilima said for instance there is need to know the full extent of the pandemic, and if Malawians have what they need to fully comply with the restrictions while maintaining preventive measures.
“Locking people away from their homes without clear and deliberate public health strategy for steering the lockdown is condemning them to hunger. Majority of people would not sustain themselves during lockdown,” pointed out Chilima.
He said banking on using force to enforce the lockdown would be pinning people against the armed forces and a recipe for social unrest.
The Veep said there is urgent need to abandon or revisit the self-isolation or self-quarantine strategy saying so far it is not working to abate the spread of the pandemic.
Chilima also urged government to scale up testing capacity, and procure more testing kits.
“Lack of testing leads to undetected spread of the virus, thus endangering the lives of many Malawians,” said Chilima.
‘Covid-19 is real’
Chilima appealed to Malawians to follow hygiene procedures such as social distancing and washing hands to avoid contracting the virus and spreading the same.
“I want to urge all Malawians not to be deceived. Covid-19 is real and it is here. It is a dangerous disease which currently has no cure,” he said.
He also paid tribute to healthcare workers, frontline officers who are following up on cases of Covid-19 and conducting contact tracing, workers who are collecting samples and testing as well as doctors and nurses who are caring for the sick.
“You are this nation’s finest. The brave of our bravest. We salute your immeasurable sacrifice and promise to stand with you during this hour of uncertainty and danger,” he said.
Malawi has so far registered 34 cases of coronavirus – with three confirmed deaths – but frontline staff say the country’s health sector is ill-equipped and unprepared to respond to the pandemic.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :