So, the High Court in Lilongwe has, through an injunction by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), stopped government’s move to effect a lockdown starting Saturday midnight after they argued that more consultation was needed to prevent harm to the poorest and most vulnerable of society.
My immediate reaction, of course, was to worry. In fact, I am worried.
I am worried because, though not 100 percent, lockdown is a preventive and mitigative measure we need now, as a country, to stop this steady spread of the virus.
This virus rides on mobility of the people. If we limit, not stop, human mobility, it becomes easy to contain its rapid spread.
Because of this, I was one of the people that supported President Peter Mutharika’s government when they announced the lockdown on Tuesday.
My argument was clear: Government must effect this lockdown; but, at the same time, they should put in place mechanisms that the poorest of the poor, who survives on daily hustles, must be protected and cushioned from the shocks resulting from the lockdown.
It’s clear that my argument was shared by many though not everybody was certain that government has, indeed, come up with measures to cushion the poor.
This is the reasoning at the heart of the decision by HRDC to seek an injunction stopping government from effecting the lockdown.
At the heart of this—something well reflected in mass demonstrations we have seen on Friday, is the fear that government will take a heavy hand to contain everybody, in fact, even tramping on those trying to survive.
It’s not easy to challenge this perspective because, we know, Mutharika’s government has been a total disaster when it comes to winning public trust.
But I argue that we are in this continues fighting mood not because HRDC and opposition hates government; rather, the Peter Mutharika government continue to lead alone even at a time when we need all stakeholders in this fight.
Look at it this way.
When South African government officially went public to wage war against this pandemic, President Ramaphosa didn’t go alone.
He was franked by all opposition leaders and that was symbolic—its symbolizes unity of purpose among politicians.
It underlined that, in this challenge, we are together; we have a common sense of purpose. That is why, though most hit, South Africa is doing quite well, especially, with politicians coming together.
Not in Malawi. President Mutharika has been all alone in this fight. Chakwera and Chilima have also been all alone. Different messages, different approaches—not coordination. The fight against COVID-19 is not a DPP issue and neither is it an opposition or an HRDC issue. It’s a national issue.
And in this nation, we have one leader: President Mutharika. He should have been the first talking a consultative leadership approach in this fight by ensuring that every political leader is on board.
Mutharika’s quest of running a secluded leadership style is breeding suspicions and doubts. That is why we have these unnecessary court injunctions.
The good thing is that the court has granted a 7-Day injunction and I am sure it is deliberate by the courts to give Mutharika a chance to bring the entire nation into this challenge.
In these 7 days, Mutharika must prove his leadership mettle by ensuring that all key stakeholders are involved in this fight. We must all move together.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :