Malawi govt ‘dismayed’ with judge Kenyatta’s lockdown injunction: Experts call for consultative process

Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani has said government is ‘dismayed’ by High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda’s decision to issue a court order blocking coronavirus nationwide lockdown for at least seven days.

Judge Kenyattta Nyirenda a seven-day injunction stopping the government from implementing a 21-day national lockdown due to coronavirus. The injunction is temporary and an inter-partes hearing is expected within seven days.

All non-essential businesses and services were to cease operating during the lockdown, which was due to end on May 9.

The restrictions aim to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected 16 people in Malawi and killed two.

But minister Botomani said government was at discomfort with Nyirenda’s action to grant Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) an injunction.

“We did not expect that in the prevailing circumstances we would have a judge that would grant such kind of injunction,” said Botomani, who is also government spokesperson.

Recently, the government spokesperson also blasted judge Nyirenda for issuing a court order that led to the release of four Chinese nationals who had been quarantined on arrival at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA).

In an interview on BBC Focus on Africa, Botomani said the lockdown measure is “basically to protect the lives of people.”

Nyirenda’s ruling ran parallel to that of Health Minister Jappie Mhango, who announced at a briefing 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.

Health rights activist Dorothy Ngoma says the lockdown is likely to create food shortages and child malnutrition among poor families.

“Much as I would really love to see this lockdown materialize, but as we do that,  the children are going to die,” she said. “What are we going to do? We have few cases yes, but the government hasn’t put any packages to make sure that they don’t die. I am not surprised and if they were in the street protesting, I would definitely join them to protest,” Ngoma told Voice of America (VOA).

In an interview with Nyasa Times, social and governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said the court injunction and street protects could have been avoided if authorities had consulted with the public.

“On the wave of demonstrations across the country my advice to government is that they need to put the lockdown on hold pending wider inclusive consultations. An Emergency Parliament should be convened to discuss the Covid-19 response. During the suspension of the lockdown government should intensify other preventive measures,” said Munthali.

He said lockdown in itself may not be an issue but the failure to put other prerequisite social protection measures and consensus building and awareness before such a decision is arrived.

“The current Malawi context where you have a leadership with less legitimacy following the Constitutional Court ruling it’s always a must for such a leadership to ensure it is inclusive in critical decision making relating to Covid-19,” he pointed out.

But Botomani told BBC’s Audrey Brown that authorities have been engaging with the vendors and other groups to help them understand the importance of the move in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“These engagements are ongoing process. We have been engaging various groups to impress upon them the need to comply with the stand of government.   Because all we are doing Audrey, and I want to repeat, is to protect the lives of people from the coronavirus,” said Botomani.

But to him by BBC journalist that the protests seen in Malawi indicate that people don’t Trust the government, the minister said: “To say that the people don’t trust government is an understatement.

“We have been meeting church leaders and some of them actually have understood the position of government and suspended their religious gatherings.”

Pressed further by BBC that people across the country have been protesting against lockdown and the protests have also reached in areas that support the President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), ‘so clearly they don’t’ trust the government’, Botomani was in denial.

He blamed what he called “the influence of politics.”

Put to him that the injunction was obtained by a coalition of civil society organisations, he said: “HRDC – these are the same people that have been leading various demonstrations across the country.”

BBC journalist pressed further that: “It’s been fairly clear that people in general oppose this lockdown.”

But Botomani said “HRDC has been working with opposition all along, it’s all politics.”

Commenting to Nyasa Times, governance commentator Munthali said it is very likely that government’s directive on lockdown will be disregarded if the protests done so far are anything to go by, and that the worst thing government can do is to use force to secure compliance.

“That would even be suicidal not only on human rights front but also to its already dwindling legitimacy,” he said.

He encouraged  government  to consult all key groups mostly affected and shed more light on different ways of preventing Covid-19 including the lockdown to the public .

“Otherwise, a Covid-19 response that only looks at public health perspective while ignoring the political economy realities of the country is recipe for disaster,” he said.

President Peter Mutharika warned on Tuesday that if authorities were not careful, up to 50,000 lives could be lost due to the virus pandemic.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :
0 0 vote
Article Rating

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
87 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dowa Beast
10 months ago

long live judge Kenyatta

guest
guest
10 months ago

This is idiotic. What does this judge know that the rest of the world doesnt know about the value of limiting movements and contact in order to reduce the spread of the virus??? Why does one judge have the power to go against public interest? This is not a political issue, and one would expect any educated person would wish to err on the side of caution. I guess everyone wants to be a star and be featured in the news! Very unfortunate if teh virus ends up spreading and killing many – one death is too much already! Guess… Read more »

Jojo
Jojo
10 months ago
Reply to  guest

Cudos

VYOTO
VYOTO
10 months ago

Both the application for the injunction and the judgement are very clear that the Vision less DPP Government decision for lock down was lacking in terms of measures to cushion the majority poor Malawians who live on less than 1 Dollar(MK735 per day).To vindicate the Judge Kenyata Nyirenda judgement, it is only now that Government is busy collecting information from Malawians?????????Malawi cannot develop with this type of mentality.

Jojo
Jojo
10 months ago
Reply to  VYOTO

Nonsense, the measures had already started before the injunction but the stupic judge decided to ignore all of it

Pachalo
Pachalo
10 months ago

Let all those who are supporting the lock down start observing it! Musafinyike yambani kukhala kwanu basi. Inenso otsutsa tiziyendambe.

Mtondowodoka
10 months ago
Reply to  Pachalo

You need to school yourself about how the virus spreads. Some people are asymptomatic yet carriers of the virus and are busy spreading it around. It’s those mainly with weak immune and underlying conditions like HIV , diabetes, bp and others that are affected more including people in their old age.
So your stupidity should not kill innocent people, that is the whole point.No one needs to die because you fly the opposition flag. Being in opposition does not mean you have to oppose everything, use your head sometimes

Mwikho
Mwikho
10 months ago
Reply to  Mtondowodoka

You are just too shallow and dull in your thinking and approach to issues.

malawian
malawian
10 months ago
Reply to  Mtondowodoka

YOU FOOL JUST QUARANTINE YOURSELF IF YOU DONT WANT TO DIE PERIOD. A DAD AKO WILL GIVE YOU ALL THE FOOD PLUS THE TOILET.

Jojo
Jojo
10 months ago
Reply to  malawian

Senseless arguement Peter did not start covid. Bambo ako akamwalira ndipamene muzindikire a Didimus inu.

Mtondowodoka
10 months ago

Judge Corona Kenyatta. Here is the man solely responsible for the covid virus hitting the corners of Malawi.

Para wanthu wakufwa nthena chifukwa cha ichi chindere waka chakufikapo.

Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo
10 months ago
Reply to  Mtondowodoka

If you think that was the right approach of implementing a lockdown, do as Pacharo has suggested above. Just self quarantine yourself in your home. Usafinyike. The judge has not stopped you from doing that and neither has the government. After all that’s what it wants.

Mtondowodoka
10 months ago
Reply to  Charlie Hebdo

My concern is the 85% of Malawians that are in the rural areas where they are no medical solutions. I wouldn’t care any less about you or the paid actors Mcp and HRDC has paid to protest. The vendors and Nsundwe zealots. A time will come when the health sector is overwhelmed by this virus and it’s effects. By that time you and your masters will disappear and point fingers at government.

Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo
10 months ago
Reply to  Mtondowodoka

Don’t fool yourself that you have the concern of the people at heart. If that was the case, you would have considered where the poor of the poorest would get their food, you would have questioned the extravagance of the DPP governance amid the Corona virus epidermic. Does it really make sense to spend MWK600 million plus on some funny lawyers from South Africa when the same can be used to buy PPEs for our hard working doctors and nurses? Only if you have blue not grey matter in your head would you think that way. Facts will always be… Read more »

Jojo
Jojo
10 months ago
Reply to  Charlie Hebdo

What is the right way of a lockdown in an emetgency situation? Consultation for how long while people are dying and the virus is spreading? Consulting a civil society that is already biased against you? An opposition bent on opposing anything? Even I would not bother to consult such a lot…it is futile exercise and just time consuming without an alternative solution especially when the measures are so clear and almost every country is following them except a few

Citizen Number 1
Citizen Number 1
10 months ago

Is there logic in closing churches but letting tobacco sales to continue, while MDF and Malawi Aka DPP Police are left loose? Are they resistant to the COVID-19? Is there sanity in the president? How can people prepare for the lockdown in just a few days’ announcement when people have no money? Does the president know hard life is in the villages? Imagine what would happen during and after the lockdown without food! Mumaona ngati poti inu ma fridge ndi ma pantry anu adzaza ndi zakudya zabwino ndiye kuti aliyense ndi wakumudzi yemwe ali nazo eti? Tamayambani kuganiza ndi kufunsa… Read more »

Mtondowodoka
10 months ago

One must tread carefully when thumping a mosquito that lands on the scrotum. Be very assured this government knows the consequences of failing the economy. Hence the tobacco market must be open.

Mwikho
Mwikho
10 months ago
Reply to  Mtondowodoka

You fool!! which is better, Avoid starving millions to death or opening up tobacco market for sake of th economy??

Jojo
Jojo
10 months ago
Reply to  Mwikho

People who will die anyway if the virus is not contained? What will you be saving there? You are the idiot.

Tchende Muntanga
10 months ago
Reply to  Mtondowodoka

Iwe Mtondowodoka kaya umati Mtondo wobooka, tahkala phee ndi ukape wakowo. Nkhani ili apa sukuimvetsa. No one is opposing the lockdown. Bvuto ndi lakuti Boma lakolo ladzadza ndi ma kape ngati iwe yemwe omwe simukumvetsa and can’t answer questions like “why, how and when” you need to lockdown the country. So let me explain pang’ono where Boma lako is missing out big time. To start with, I am sure you are not aware kuti even in USA not all the States are on lockdown. In Europe, some countries have refused to go on lockdown, the same with some countries in… Read more »

Jojo
Jojo
10 months ago

Achimwene tonse ndife aMalawi and we know how resilient we have been in many disasters. This one will pass too if we do the right thing. Poverty has been with us and cannot go overnight even if it is your Chakwara leading. Today we have to deal with this problem now and urgently. 21days plus cash transfer, maize distribution and other measures in.place can go a long way in minimizing the spread. I doubt if anyone will die of hunger at all.

Red Flagger
Red Flagger
10 months ago

Can a legal person explain to us what it means to effect an injunction on order that was never declared? I can’t follow this drama anymore…What evidence would the have been examining to reach a decision?

Mwene
Mwene
10 months ago
Reply to  Red Flagger

Are you living on Mars???? Who provided dates for the Lockdown???

Analyst
Analyst
10 months ago

Koma nkhope eeee Covid-19

ignatius
10 months ago

Chinkhope ngato Boko- Haram

Nambewe
Nambewe
10 months ago

Lives on your hands sir! Lives are going to be lost because of your poor judgement! Poor Malawi!A chaotic battle ground of egotistical behaviour! we will pay heavily for this decision. Lets brace ourselves! Pray Malawi Pray! we are in trouble!

shares
Read previous post:
Malawi Bureau of Standards recommends 5 companies to make hand sanitizers

Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) has recommended products from five manufacturing companies to supply hand sanitisers aimed at enhancing hygiene...

Close