The neutrality and professionalism of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) have come under serious public scrutiny again after law enforcers fired teargas to disperse spaciously-seated congregants at St. Louis Catholic Parish in Balaka on Sunday morning.
Ironically, the police happily provided security to densely-seated supporters of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its alliance partner United Democratic Front (UDF) who attended a public rally at Balaka Stadium a few days ago.
The meeting, which attracted over 200 DPP and UDF supporters, was addressed by the Minister of Labour, Skills and Innovation, Lilian Patel, addressed alongside Minister of Persons with Disability and the Elderly, Clement Chiwaya.
Throughout the rally, DPP and UDF supporters defied social distancing order, yet the police did nothing to enforce measures to prevent or protect the supporters from the threat of virus pandemic.
But when the Catholics spaciously-gathered Sunday of April 26, 2020, to seek the face of God in the wake of the pandemic, the police cracked whip on the unsuspecting faithful.
The development prompted renowned Malawian musician and former member of Parliament (MP) Balaka North constituency, Lucius Banda, to question police neutrality and professionalism when enforcing orders to contain the pandemic.
“I wonder why they didn’t do the same at the stadium a few days ago,” Banda, who is UTM Party director of campaign, wonders in his post on his Facebook account.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, in an earlier interview, also wondered whether the waiving of the anti-COVID-19 measures on DPP and UDF supporters at the Balaka Stadium rally meant the suspension of the measures to allow all political parties to conduct campaign rallies in preparation for the fresh presidential election slated for July 2, 2020.
Apart from Catholic, police also forced Christian worshipers away from churches of Anglican in Balaka, Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) and Church of Christ.
Church of Christ Pastor McDonald Chisale, ppealed to the government to allow the church to remain open, saying it gave hope in times like these.
“COVID-19 will not survive the prayers of the church. We need to talk to God more through prayers; we are saddened by this restriction,” said Chisale.
But Eastern Region Police Public Relations Officer Joseph Sauka said worshipers will have to bear with the situation as the government fights the coronavirus.
“This will apply across the eastern region and it is not only targeting prayer houses, but it includes bars and bottle stores,” he said.
Observers say said the fear around the Covid-19 could be more devastating than the disease itself if not well managed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :