Coronavirus or fresh presidential election? Malawi gambles in push for votes

Officials and experts are sounding the alarm as Malawi shifts to top campaign gear with giant rallies for an unprecedented presidential re-run despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands are attending rallies in defiance of a ban on large gatherings
President Mutharika and Atupele Muluzi:  Campaigning on DPP-UDF alliance

The poor southern African country will hold polls in just under two months after the Constitutional Court overturned the results of last year’s controversial election, which handed President Peter Mutharika a second term.

Mutharika garnered just 38.5 percent of the May 21 vote but the Constitutional Court annulled the result, citing “grave” and “widespread” irregularities, including the use of correction fluid on ballot papers

Polling is due on July 2, but could be brought forward to June 23, the electoral commission said this week.

In a blatant defiance of a ban on large gatherings, thousands of elated supporters jostled and shoved shoulder-to-shoulder cheering on their candidates as they handed in their nomination papers last week.

Immediately after that, parties hit the road, attracting huge crowds.

Health Minister Jappie Mhango chided his colleagues on the campaign trail.

“Elections or not, we need people and we cannot be sending them to the grave because we want to win an election.

– ‘We’re being careless’ –

“We’re being careless. If the leaders themselves cannot even observe social distancing, who will be telling people …about the seriousness of the pandemic?” he said.

Coronavirus infections have been slowly creeping in Malawi and now stand at 63, including three deaths, since the first case emerged on April 2.

There is no lockdown but the government has ordered public gatherings to be capped at 100 people.

A court last month blocked the government from imposing a full lockdown because it had failed to announce any measures to cushion the vulnerable.

“We are really concerned with the gathering of people for political rallies,” said Health Ministry principal secretary Dan Namarika.

“We have seen huge gatherings, this is would defeat the … fight against coronavirus,” he said.

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2 years ago

This writer may be pardoned because he is not aware that we have leadership that has been vigorously promoting ethnic politics and tension which if not checked timeously could result in loss of life in millions like the Rwanda experience and this DPP led government has proved to be very divisive which is more dangerous to the Malawians than the threat posed by Coronavirus. For example in just one week ethnic petrol bombing killed three Malawians while others are fighting for their lives in hospital. But it has taken more than a month for coronavirus to kill three Malawians. So… Read more »

National CEO
National CEO
2 years ago

we don’t have a government so the elections are essential. By the way the name of the writter seems not a Malawian so do not poke your nose into our affairs. we did not create corona virus, we know what we are doing, we may shout at one another but we can not allow foreigner to comment. mind your own business.

2 years ago
Reply to  National CEO

Jack Mcbrams is a Chancellor college graduate, whoever went to chanco between 1995 and 2000 knows jack Mcbrams, akulu inuyo pachirunga simunaponde khalani chete….

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