Malawi cross-party political leaders, civil society, chiefs, religious leaders and business community should work together with government technocrats and health professionals to beat coronavirus ‘national disaster’, State vice-president Saulos Chilima has said.
“My fellow Malawians, there is no DPP Coronavirus. There is no UTM Coronavirus. There is no MCP Coronavirus. People’s Party Corona or UDF Corona,” said Chilima when he addressed the news conference in Lilongwe.
He called on the government to engage constructively with all political parties on the national effort to defeat the pandemic.
Chilima’s statement comes after government ordered opposition political parties to halt coronavirus awareness campaigns, calling the efforts a politicization of the pandemic.
The opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM have been going door-to-door in rural areas to raise awareness of symptoms and prevention.
They say their campaigners wear masks and gloves and preach hand washing to prevent coronavirus from spreading.
Malawi’s healthcare rights activists however welcomed all coronavirus education campaigns.
In his televised address to journalists, Chilima proposes that district councils should be given “extra powers” during the virus crisis to stop any gatherings whether by the government or opposition.
“They should be in control to ensure that these directives are being implemented across the board without being overpowered by overzealous political operatives,” said Chilima.
Furthermore, Chilima proposes that the engagement of the media and announcement of daily Covid-19 response updates be left to be handled by the health experts not Ministers in the Special Cabinet Committee on coronavirus headed by Minister of Health Jappie Mhango.
“There are very qualified people who are being left in the shadows while incompetent politicians are putting themselves in front of cameras giving half-truths to the people of Malawi.
“Let us leave these things to a team of relevant government technocrats and health professionals to give the nation hard truths. These are the people who should be leading us in this fight,” said Chilima. He said when fighting a crisis, the last thing the public wants is communication crisis.
“Therefore, make sure accurate information is readily available to the media and the public coming from competent government officials on the subject at hand.
“The inter-ministerial committee and the Presidency can be handling other crosscutting issues and engage the media once or twice a week to announce any high-level measures,” he said.
Curb virus spread
Chilima issued an appeal to all Malawians not to hold back on observing hygiene and social distancing to combat the spread of Covid-19, a strand of coronavirus.
“We should also be our brother’s keeper. Let us remind each other to wash hands and keep social distance. Do not go out of the house for the sake of going out.
“As government, as political leaders we will do our part – but the last decision is in your hands as an individual. We cannot wash your hands on your behalf. We cannot wear a mask for you. This is not the time for partying, bridal showers, chinamwali, and other unnecessary gatherings. There will be a time for that,” he said.
Chilima said Malawians should consider this as a time of war, “a war against an invisible enemy, the coronavirus.”
He said: “This virus is a killer. Do not be misled. It kills white people, it kills black people; it kills rich people, it kills poor people; it kills educated people, it kills uneducated people; it kills the young and the old; men and women. Let us all join hands to fight this enemy.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :