Two renowned law professors say the gazetted rule which prohibits the congregation of more than 10 for worship is still in force despite the government announcement that it has been reviewed.
University of Malawi law lecturers at Chancellor College, Garton Kamchezera and Edge Kanyongolo say the government has no powers to amend a law through a new conference.
“People have to wait for the written law, the amended law which will allow the assembly of 100 people in a church,” he said.
He said it is illegal, as of now, for mosques or churches to have more than 10 people.
“Churches or mosques will have to wait until the law is amended and gazetted,” he said.
Kanyongolo said Malawi is Constitutional state therefore laws cannot be amended by word of mouth at a news conference.
Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda on Thursday said after a meeting with religious leaders, they decided to revert to limiting public gatherings to 100 people.
On Wednesday, several church groups, including the CCAP General Assembly, Pastors Task Force on Covid-19 and the Prophetic Ministries Association of Malawi announced that they had rejected government’s decision to restrict religious gatherings to 10 people.
Meanwhile, infectious disease specialist Dr Titus Divala said both parties need to seriously think about the effects of their actions.
He said: “The implementational trigger and pathway for the gazetted text does not seem to be guided by a critical scientific direction that has been shared, leaving the population in the dark and failing to connect with what exactly government wants to achieve and by what date.
“On the planned violations of the gazette, I would say it is extremely unfortunate. The regulations are there to save lives. Shouldn’t standing in their way be interpreted as murder? Is the religious community willing to be associated with that?”
Among the gazetted rules, individuals are supposed to wear masks in all public areas or risk a K10 000 fine while funeral gatherings are limited to 50, failing which defaulters will be liable to a K100 000 fine and three months imprisonment.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 4 912 cases, including 153 deaths. Of these cases, 1 071 are imported infections and 3 841 are locally transmitted.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :