Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for South, has officially responded to the set of anti-coronavirus restrictions which were outlined by President Lazarus Chakwera this week, saying it does not have measurers to cushion loss of livelihood in one of the world’s poorest countries, where most people work informally.
Chakwera was commended by civil society and commentators for his Covid-19 strategy which was characterised as bold and prudent, but the opposition leader punched holes, described it as devoid of measures to cushioning the vulnerable communities.
The opposition leader, however, commended Chakwera for having courage to impose lockdown restrictions after a surge in Covid cases but said government should provide safety nets to the most vulnerable and affected people.
“I humbly commend President Chakwera for coming up with new measurers for combating the new wave if Covid-19,” Nankhumwa said in a statement seen by Nyasa Times.
“Having been entrusted with the mantle of being your Leader of Opposition in Parliament, I would like to urge President Chakwera to dig much deeper and do more to help cushion the suffering of millions of Malawians in light of the rising wave of Covid-19 infections,” said Nankhumwa.
Hs said part of the K17.53 billion Covid-19 funds which President Chakwera announced to be set aside to fight the pandemic should be channelled towards cushioning the ultra-poor against the “extreme economic impact of Covid-19” such as cash transfers.
In the statement, Nankhumwa also tacked issues such as job cuts and the folding up of small and medium enterprises as issues haunting the nation in the face of Covid-19 transmission.
Nankhumwa said: “The tourism industry is on deathbed and it needs the support of the government. Many other industries better be supported or we risk becoming perennial importers of everything upon the demise of our industries that have been instrumental in our bid to enhance import substitution.
“If we are not careful, we will never realize out long cherished dream of becoming a predominantly producing and exporting country.”
Other measures which Nankhumwa mentioned include reducing cost of water to encourage people to wash hands, pardoning some prisoners to decongest prisons and hiring more health workers.
The death of two Covid-19 positive ministers last week prompted Chakwera to declare a state of disasters and government has since gazetted measurers such as a night-time curfew; gatherings have been capped to not more than 50 people and face masks are now mandatory in public.
Chakwera warned Malawi’s healthcare facilities had been “overwhelmed” by the surge, saying the situation is “quite desperate,” laying out plans to recruit more personnel and open field hospitals.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :