Govt welcomes discussion with MHRC and others on ‘mandatory’ Covid-19 vaccination

Government has advised the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and other human rights organizations to feel free to engage it in discussion to understand its position on ‘mandatory’ Covid-19 vaccination.

Recently, the Commission cautioned the government against implementing a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination without a legal and policy framework guiding its implementation.

Information Minister Gospel Kazako

The caution followed a public outcry that some privately-owned companies and government departments, ministries and agencies (MDAs) are forcing their employees to go for vaccination or stop reporting for duties.

In a statement issued on Tuesday last week, MHRC stressed that that Covid-19 vaccination remains voluntary and that employers who are demanding proof of vaccination from their workers are violating the law.

It advised the government to stick to World Health Organisation’s regulations, which stipulate that Covid-19 vaccine is not mandatory.

MHRC further states that any government decision to adopt mandatory Covid-19 vaccination or stick to voluntary Covid-19 vaccination should be guided by law.

Additionally, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) executive director Sylvester Namiwa recently wrote Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda to declare the government’s position on mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.

Namiwa contended that the legal advice on the silently introduced and implemented ‘NO VACCINE, NO WORK POLICY’ of containing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic runs counter to the ‘voluntary vaccination’, which the Minister of Health and Population, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, has been preaching all along.

But the Minister of Information Gospel Kazako has dismissed speculation that the government had silently introduced the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.

Kazako said it was, therefore, said that the Commission and other human rights watchdogs had chosen to tackle the issue through social media instead of engaging relevant authorities at the Capital Hill.

The minister was responding to a question from one of the journalists who attended a press briefing, which the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 convened at the Central Office of Information (COI) in Lilongwe today.

He said Covid-19 vaccination remains voluntary and that the government has not changed its position on this.

“But what we are doing is to encourage employers to encourage their workers to go for vaccination because, at the end of the day, our wish is to protect every Malawian. This government looks at every Malawian as a human resource for the socioeconomic development of this country. That’s why when one dies of Covid-19, we consider it as a great loss to the nation,” said Kazako.

The minister said the government is open to discuss human rights issues with any organization, including MHRC.

“MHRC and other human rights organizations are doing a commendable job in Malawi. That’s why this government is running an open door policy to facilitate exchange of ideas on matters of national importance. So, we would be glad to engage MHRC in discussions other than taking to the social media as if we are fighting,” emphasized Kazako.

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