The UTM Party has described the government’s impending 21-day coronavirus lockdown as a tactic by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to delay fresh presidential polls scheduled for July 2, because of the nullification of the May 21, 2019, vote.
“If at all they have passion for the people, they would have looked at what to do to give the people. It only shows that this is election fever. They are shivering because of the fresh elections,” UTM’s Secretary General Patricia Kaliati said in quotes reported by Zodiak Broadcasting Station.
“Poverty level in Malawi is so high. Most of the people work hand to mouth. People will die because of hunger and not Covid-19,” she said.
The lockdown has been blocked as High Court on Friday granted a temporary injunction to Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), pending a judicial review within seven days.
Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda set aside the as HRDC argued that more consultation was needed to prevent harm to the poorest and most vulnerable of society.
Small-scale traders, often young people, had been staging protests in the three major cities against the lockdown plan, carrying placards declaring that it would be better to contract the virus than die of hunger because they are unable to work.
Most of those protesting called on the government to provide them with cash and food hand-outs if a lockdown went ahead.
Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani told the Reuters news agency that President Peter Mutharika’s office had noted the judgment and continued to see the lockdown as the way to save lives by minimising further spread of the coronavirus.
“Since the injunction obtained is a temporary relief pending judicial review, our expectation is that our civil, society and the courts will be guided by the law and what is in the best interest of Malawians when the matter finally comes for a hearing and determination, and nothing else,” Kalilani said.
“We can only hope that by the time the HRDC and the courts finalise dealing with the matter in court, it shall not be too late for all of us to effectively contain the spread of the virus and save lives.”
Health Minister Jappie Mhango announced on Friday that the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 17 from 16. The latest case is of a 70-year old Blantyre businessman of Asian origin.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :