Two influential democracy defender organisations have sprung up to slam the government over the announced decision to close the country’s borders for 14 days and restrict public gatherings to 100 people following a new surge in cases of the coronavirus.
Quasi-religious body, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has faulted the Tonse Alliance administration for failing to learn from the past mistakes on handling matters of national importance.
PAC spokesperson, Bishop Gilford Matonga predicts strong resistance to the re-introduced gathering restriction to 100 people as a measure to contain a second wave of virus pandemic in Malawi.
On the other hand, Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative (Cdedi) outspoken executive director Sylvester Namiwa cautions President Lazarus Chakwera to desist from what he calls ‘trial and error’ in governing the country.
“Cdedi and indeed all well meaning Malawians questions President Dr. Lazurus Chakwera’s decision to close the borders for the next fourteen days, following the news that cabinet minister has tested positive for Covid-19.
“This is another clear case of selective application of justice. Covid-19 cases have been steadily increasing but government waited until a minister was admitted to a hospital for them to act,” he says.
Namiwa says by closing the borders government is sending a signal that the country does not have the capacity to screen the entrants, saying on the other hand, the closure of the borders means a loss in business and revenue.
He said the decision also exposes inconsistency in policy direction since the education ministry announced that the cancelled Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations will be re-administered from December 26, 2020.
“Fourthly, the decision shows the total disregard for consultations on matters of national importance, a complete departure from the Tonse philosophy since the task force team could have consulted relevant stakeholders before making such hasty decisions,” he said.
He advised the government to embrace the spirit of thorough consultations, and to refrain from the trial and error system of administration.
After nearly two months without new positive cases, Malawi on Tuesday recorded 46 new infections, bringing the total number of infections to 6,248, with 187 deaths, according to the health ministry.
Malawi’s borders and airports re-opened in October as positive cases fell, although some experts fear the real figure may be higher as just over 80,000 tests have been conducted.