Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has been left distraught after residents of Area 1B and Habitat in the city of Mzuzu on Saturday vandalised its Luwinga Technical Centre after learning that the facility was offered to Ministry of Health to use it as a quarantine centre for coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic patients.
Mzuzu-based FAM second vice-president Othaniel Hara, said the inside of building has been badly vandalised, extensive damage—window panes broken some doors removed.
“The beds that were brought in by the Ministry of Health have been burnt down. They were very expensive beds the Ministry of Health can explain better,” he said.
“I have no idea as to why the people vandalised the facility except to lament on why would one take to the streets and vandalise their own facility. In fact the immediate beneficiaries of that facility are the very same people that vandalised it.
“We will leave it to government to look into the matter and we will have a stakeholders meeting on the same,” lamented Hara.
The community claimed the idea of using the facility as an isolation centre posed a great health threat as it had no complete fence around and it was close to people’s residences. The people said they feared they could easily contract the disease.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by General Secretary of FAM, Alfred Gunda, says association has learnt with sadness the vandalising of the Luwinga Technical Centre.
“Our gesture was out of good will and it is sad that it has not been well received. It was needless for the community to vandalise the property instead of engaging relevant authorities to raise their concerns.
“Our offer still stands for the support of the Malawi population during this pandemic where we need to come together to fight against the corona virus and we hope the matter will be resolved amicably,” stated Gunda.
However, other observers have faulted the approach that was taken by FAM and the Ministry of Health by not engaging the community in coming up with the initiative.
Thokozani Chenjezi is one person who faults the approach and told Nyasa Times: “The idea was not bad but the community around was supposed to be fully engaged before implementing it. There was need for an excellent communication strategy. There was need to sensitise the community on how the facility will be operating, allow them to ask questions and give them assurance on how best the system will work.
“Then perhaps there could be a ceremony where FAM officials could symbolically hand the facility to the community through the Block Leader and then the leader hands it to Mzuzu Central Hospital. It was going to be easy to give T-shirts for example, with COVID-19 messages to several people, share masks and sanitizers because this programme is well funded. That done, all was going to be well with the community,” elaborated Chenjezi who is a trained journalist from the Malawi Polytechnic.
Mzuzu Police Station deputy spokesperson Paul Tembo said irate community members damaged a police vehicle and injured some officers, apart from burning some equipment at the facility.
However he said no arrests have been done, but they have enforced patrol.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :