President Peter Mutharika’s leadership on coronavirus (Covid-19) may have flaws, of course; but generally, he has been calm, collected and thoughtful in most of the decisions he has taken.
What is paramount is that, from analysis, the President is being driven by facts and science; not emotions, outcries and outbursts from social media carpers.
When he, first, closed schools, limited social gatherings to 100 people, limited number of people in public transport, and advised people to work from home if needs be; the decision was all preventive and protective in nature.
It was all preventive and protective because by then we had not registered a case—partly because we didn’t have the capacity to test or, because, we just didn’t have the cases at all.
Working from that premise, the President was right to advance such preventive and protective measures because, like all of us here, we just didn’t know if we had a case or not.
He had to lead the nation towards that route.
Of course, some have slapped the President for prioritizing closure of schools over our borders.
But look around.
South Africa, which has so many cars in Africa, had to close the schools and limit social gathering first before turning to the borders.
The philosophy is simple: You manage and control internal population first because its sparse and chaotic.
People entering borders are easily manageable through instant tests and quarantines, either institutional or self quarantines.
So I see the decisions President Mutharika took to be quite matured, ones driven by facts, science and global trends.
In fact, even with the first three cases, the President has been on top of the game.
He took it up upon himself to alert fellow Malawians and, what is more important, he urged for calm.
However, there are some gaps in his address which needs to be addressed by his communications team swiftly to remove doubts in the eyes of the public.
Malawians deserve to know the details of the 3 cases—things like when did they arrive in the country, through which border, which plane or bus, who have they been meeting with, etc.
Further, there is a question of the infected maid. Malawians are panicking as they don’t have official information regarding this maid.
Was she commuting to squatter township of Ntandire? Where was she staying. Which people was she meeting. Where are the people she was meeting?
What we need to advise the President is that Covid-19 works on perception of the people. Government, then, has a duty to regularly set the Covid-19 agenda by providing every information needed.
The public should be building perception based on facts—and government should regularly provide this.
To this effect, Mutharika needs to come up with a team of communication experts, they can be from Ministry of Health, who should be the face of this crisis.
These must be people with proven integrity that should be providing daily briefings and updates regarding Covid-19.
Otherwise, let’s wish the President well.
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