Lilongwe, 15 April, 2020
LOCKDOWN WITHOUT SAFETY NETS FOR THE POOR WON’T WORK, MR. PRESIDENT
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) just like all Malawians of goodwill waited with bated breath on the night of Tuesday April 14, 2020 for the State President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika’s national address on the COVID 19. To our surprise, the president’s national address sounded too good to be believed and it gave an impression of a leader who either does not understand the welfare and the social-economic status of the people or does not care at all.
CDEDI would like to draw President Mutharika’s attention to the latest National Statistical Office (NSO) January 2019 Malawi Poverty Report.
According to this report over 51.5 percent of Malawians live in poverty while 20.1 percent are living in ultra-poverty.
While commending Mutharika for taking a leading role in trying to contain further spread of COVID-19 pandemic, CDEDI finds the lockdown which has no safety nets for the majority poor Malawians as running counter to the citizen’s right to food and life.
Until government announces measures on how it intends to feed the poor, that includes those who live on hand to mouth, Child and female headed households and the ultra-poor then we will not hesitate to conclude that the lockdown is Mutharika’s deliberate attempt to kill Malawians with hunger.
CDEDI is also shocked to note that ever since government started implementing such measures against Corona virus the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government has avoided consultations with major stakeholders such as the Captains of the industry that drive the economy, Opposition leaders, Non Governmental organizations (NGO’s), Religious leaders, Traditional leaders and indeed the Academia, etc. This raises suspension to say but the least.
CDEDI is therefore appealing to Mutharika to immediately rescind his decision on the lockdown pending proper consultations with relevant stakeholders.
On the other hand, government should come out clearly on how it is going to cushion Small and Medium Enterprises and indeed the private sector that would be paying their employees during the lockdown period.
Failure to do so, CDEDI believes Malawi will lose millions of lives as opposed to the highly publicized 50 deaths that ought to be prevented by the lockdown.
Therefore, CDEDI is giving government 48 hours to tell Malawians how they are going to get their rations while staying at home before the lockdown takes effect.
Should our call land on deaf ears, CDEDI will mobilize poor Malawians whose source of income cannot sustain them for the next 21 days to gather at the district commissioner’s office in their respective districts and city councils to pressurize government to act on their plight.
CDEDI is a non partisan, nongovernmental organization that was established with a goal to have a well-informed and organized citizenry that can ably demand their social and economic rights at the same time hold duty bearers accountable for their actions.
Among many others CDEDI aims at sensitizing the masses on matters of national importance, inculcate the spirit of a peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic, political and religious affiliations; provide civic education on people’s rights and responsibilities in economic independence and contribution towards national development and lobbying for the electoral law reforms.
ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR