A coalition of youth-led organisations and networks has penned the Malawi government and development partners, expressing its disappointment over exclusion of the youth in the fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
The coalition, which is calling itself Youth Platform on Covid-19 (YPC), argues that lack of consultation with civil society organisations (CSOs) and meaningful engagement of youth organizations and networks to contribute to the Covid-19 measures and impending lockdown has sidelined the Ministry of Youth and other equally important line ministries.
The coalition, which comprises 24 youth-led organisations and networks, says while it acknowledges the efforts the Malawi government and its development partners are undertaking to contain the virus, there are still many gaps in the interventions.
“We, the youth who constitute a significant proportion of this country’s population, call upon the government, development partners and stakeholders to ensure that they leverage the field of play by making sure that the Ministry of Youth and other line ministries, youth organizations and networks, other political parties, Members of Parliament, the Judiciary and legal minds, students unions, child and youth rights defenders, faith based organizations, community and religious leaders, the private sector, women organizations/groups and trade unions representatives are included in an all-inclusive committee to ensure engagement by all players in an impartially manner on Covid-19 and impending lockdown currently under stay order by the High Court as it is politically biased and driven by a Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19,” reads part of the statement the coalition has issued.
The statement has been endorsed by Activista Youth Network (AYN), Change for Us, Christian Youth Association of Malawi (CYAMA), Child Rights Information and Documentation Centre (CRIDOC), Youth Initiative for Sustainable Development (ECD), Ekwendeni Counseling Youth Organization (EYCO), Action Hope Malawi (AHM), Likhumbula Youth Organization, National Association of Young People Living with HIV (Y+), St Peters Youth Organization, Kandoli Youth Organization and Community Initiative for Social Empowerment (CISE).
Other signatories are Malawi Human Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities, Lozi Youth Organization (LYO), Sky Foundation, Nsanje Youth Animators for Development (NYADE), Good Future Organization, Youth Act Alliance (YAA), Youth Care Life Support Foundation (YOCAFO), Friends of AIDS Support Trust (FAST), Girls Activist Youth Organization (GAYO), Go Fund A Girl Child, Centre for Concerned Youth in Development (CECOYD) and Youth Act Alliance (YAA).
YPC states that government has generally failed to demonstrate high level transparency and accountability on how it is using resources from taxpayers and donors in response to the pandemic.
The coalition urges development partners, CSOs and stakeholders to intensify checks and balances on domestic resources and partners’ investments on COVI-19 to ensure that resources are efficiently used and go to essential services and activities. D
It further asks development partners to set strict conditions so as to facilitate transparency and accountability by channeling other resources directly to CHAM, CSOs, and other strategic service providers.
“The CSOs, stakeholders, legal institutions and legal practitioners should join hands to ensure that justice prevails and support the litigation process on COVID-19 to ensure that the principle of natural justice prevails as enshrined in the Republican Constitution of Malawi and provide probono services to the citizenry and media practitioners subjected to violation of human rights,” says the statement.
The coalition further chides government for what it calls “total politicization of the diagnosis, surveillance and case management of COVID-19 by the politically biased Special Cabinet Committee on COVID-19 as opposed to healthcare workers (HCWs) and technocrats to disseminate information from a professional point of view’.
It has since called upon government to depoliticize the diagnosis, surveillance and case management of COVID-19 by ensuring that technocrats and healthcare workers take lead in dissemination of information and call upon the World health Organization (WHO) to facilitate confirmatory tests on all the tested positive cases of COVID-19 and do intensive monitoring and supervision in collaboration with development partners, including the CSOs.
“The implementation of COVID-19 measures such as Declaration of State of Disaster and Public Health Act-lockdown application has been termed as illegal by legal minds, institutions and CSOs such as Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and Malawi Law Society (MLS) premised on the fact that a subsidiary law cannot supersede the supreme law. Total implementation of the lockdown in a poor country like Malawi whose poverty rate is at 50 per cent and unemployment is high among young people and women is going bear catastrophic situation in addition to COVID-19. Execution of lockdown without consideration of providing social protection packages focused on hunger mitigation among the most vulnerable will rampantly affect the children, adolescents, Young Female Sex Workers (YFSWs), inmates, young people and children whose earnings or families’ earnings are on hand-to-mouth and heavily survive on piece work,” goes the statement.
The cites as another gap lack of disability user friendly Information Education and Commination (IEC) materials and consideration on negative impact lockdown may bring about to the children, adolescents and young people with disabilities in accessing ARVs, health and education, in general.
It also condemns violations of human rights in COVID-19 response, citing the manhandling of Ufulu FM reporter by people suspected to be Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets in Chikwawa and intimidation of relatives of citizens who demand or seek independent COVID-19 test.
The grouping also call on the government to address the issues with speed by increasing isolation centers and other medical capacity including decongestion inmates coupled food-nutrition and soaps.
“We call on the government to implement an all-inclusive approach in the response to COVID-19 by developing disability user friendly IEC materials and ensure universal access to health and services by all.
“The government should provide free, universal public health, water and sanitation services to all underprivileged families. Ensure that workers in the informal economy, women, asylum-seekers, migrants have equal access to public health and other public services without discrimination,” the coalition recommends.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :