Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and its electoral partner, UTM, have warned government that will take the blame if Malawians take the law into their hands in protest against the proposed nationwide lockdown to prevent further spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The MCP-UTM alliance and its partners argue that President Peter Mutharika is resisting to comply with the law on lockdown; hence, government must not expect citizens to respect the law when leaders are failing to lead by example.
A statement the alliance issued on Thursday and made available to Nyasa Times argues that any responsible lockdown must be preceded by material and financial support to those most adversely affected by restrictions on movement and disruptions to livelihood.
“Similarly, on April 8, a whole week before the lockdown order, Dr. Saulos Chilima (UTM leader) outlined the various groups that need support to survive the lockdown. Sadly, neither warning was heeded, leaving Malawians from north to south with no choice, but rush to the streets to protest this glaring oversight.
“As we speak, the material and financial support to vulnerable and impoverished Malawians has still not been given. If any Malawians suffer hunger and loss of income due to a lockdown, it will be because the Mutharika administration refused to heed this advice,” reads a statement, which has been signed by MCP Secretary General Reverend Maurice Munthali and his UTM counterpart Dr Joseph Chidanti Malunga.
Munthali and Malunga say the MCP/UTM alliance and its partners were therefore not surprised that even the Malawi Law Society (MLS) faulted the government for failing to comply with the provisions of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act under which its declaration of disaster was made as well as for misapplying the provisions of the Public Health Act under which its lockdown rules were formulated.
They says the Mutharika administration’s incompetence in matters of the law has once again not only landed it in trouble with the courts, but has also put it in danger of violating the Constitution for any lockdown would involve the abrogation of people’s constitutional rights, including the right to freely and safely vote for a president of their choice in the fresh election to be held within the next 70 days as ordered by the Constitutional Court.
“The Constitution only allows such abrogation of rights in a State of Emergency during times of war and natural disaster, which means that for such abrogation of rights to apply to a State of Disaster, Parliament would have to first amend the Constitution or pass emergency legislation, which Government has not bothered to do, leaving the State open to lawsuits for acting ultra vires,” Munthali and Malunga say in the statement.
“If lawlessness and anarchy ensue in the land in the wake of this pandemic, it will be because the Mutharika Administration itself refused to comply with the law,” they warn.
The MCP/UTM Alliance further expresses dismay to learn that the Minister of Finance has written to commercial banks asking for a moratorium on loan repayments for parliamentarians, yet it did not extend the relief to nurses and doctors who ought to be exempted from income tax until this storm passes.
The two parties believe say it is these acts of neglect towards health workers that have caused them to stage sit-ins and suspend health services across the country.
“What government needs to do is simply act on their demands, not dismiss them as unreasonable. If any of our medical facilities and personnel are overrun by COVID-19 cases, it will be because the Mutharika administration refused to attend to their needs.
“Remarkably, only one of the measures was implemented, namely the closure of schools and restrictions on public gatherings. The rest have largely been ignored, beginning with the closure of our borders and all points of entry,” the statement further reads.
The opposition alliance observed that equally ignored is the provision and requirement of mandatory masks for everyone going outside their home and mandatory hand-washing at all facilities.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :