The chaotic handling of the management of Covid19 pandemic in Malawi continues to divide opinions. With government attempts to begin a 21 day lockdown facing an Injunction that was obtained by Human Rights Defenders Coalition(HRDC), the chairperson of the Defence and Security Select committee in Parliament Dr Ken Zikhale Ngoma has released a statement on his take on the issue.
In his statement Dr Zikhale has largely criticized the government on its handling of the attempts to have a lockdown in Malawi. He has also accused the DPP regime of politicizing a pandemic that was meant to have been handled by public health concern for all and should have involved all stakeholders including the opposition parties. He said he expected that the executive could set a committee that will involve opposition just like South African President Cyril Ramaphosa did by inviting Julius Malema from the opposition.
“Malawians expected that the Mutharika regime would be exemplary in the manner it could handle issues of National importance. Surprisingly, the adverse is the case where a political party with only 13 percent of support in the country is trying to dominate the entire operations, a move that has raised eyebrows of the 97 percent of the populations who do not respect DPP as government” reads the statement.
Zikhale has also been critical of the government for bypassing parliament in its dealings claiming that the executive decided to use a short cut in handling this pandemic by declaring it as a national disaster without seeking mandate from Parliament which is another arm of government.
Instead of involving parliament government opted for DPP royalist and new Ministers to handle such a magnitude concern. Through them they opted for doctors of their sympathy and started to spend resources in relation to the Pandemic without following normal procedures and bypassing parliament that mandates government to borrow money that will suffice to control the situation. We need clean recording where subcommittee comprising of all quarters of Malawians, like opposition and NGOs that are independent should produce and tell the nation realities
Set subcommittee will ensure that and resources are accounted for and statistics published for Malawians to see for themselves the use of their donor and tax payers money” argues Zikhale
Zikhale has expressed how sad the situation is when many DPP affiliated groups, unregistered as Private and Public Partners, have had access to resources just because of their personal relationships side-lining those with specialties to handle such matters
On government preparation for the lockdown, Zikhale expressed the procedures that should have been followed “According to our constitution this issue could have attracted what we call state of emergency to give government power to use army and police to apply force for a lockdown
One wonders which section in the constitution they will use to engage the army and police?.
Where will these institutions get the power to force Malawians to lock down for 21days, will it be through a regulation from a department of health?”
The Nkhatabay South legislator, who is also opposition Malawi Congress Party Chief strategist has described what the government is doing as unconstitutional as the regulation time limit for a disasters, does not exceed 7 days hence the Executive is required to call for an emergency parliament to seek the mandate to do.
He has also questioned the government, the strategy used is not complete to quantity application of 21days lockdown
Zikhale says he expects the president to call for an emergency parliament to regulate Corona virus operations and procedures
He urged the government and ministry of health to look critically at measures they are proposing for the lockdown. “ A number of factors need to be considered so that Malawians should be helped. , the levels of economy whether is supportive or not, levels of poverty in the country considering the fact that Malawians leave under a Dollar per day, their risks to malnourishment that could be caused by not having access to balanced diet with vitamins proteins iron and other minerals within the 21days lockdown which could result to more deaths” He also added that other aspects of life such as spiritual, pregnant women and those with other underlying issues such as HIV, diabetes should be considered prior to a lockdown being implemented