Lilongwe, 3 April, 2020
WE ARE UNDER PANIC- MR PRESIDENT
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has welcomed with regret an announcement State President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika made to the nation through the public broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Thursday April 2, 2020.
Mutharika in his own words as monitored through MBC, Malawi has at the time of the broadcast registered three (3) confirmed cases. The President asked us not to panic!
However, CDEDI believes the announcement the president made has sent Malawians into panicking mood.
The following are the justification why Mutharika’s announcement has triggered more fear and mostly more questions than answers;
1. Mutharika, in his own words, said the woman in question came into the country from India and had contact with a confirmed Corona Virus Case and was allowed to go into self quarantine. This, to us shows a clear case of negligence displayed by the authorities. Why did they allow this woman to go into self quarantine when evidence was there that she had contact with a confirmed case?
In the interest of transparency and accountability can government tell us the flight number and name this woman used from India? We understand India is still under lockdown.
Why did Indian authorities only allowed this woman to leave India when everyone else there was not allowed to either leave or enter the country?
On March 22, 2020 government through Information Minister Mark Botomani issued a statement accusing Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda of granting an injunction to four Chinese nationals to enter the country, after their friends were sent back right at the airport, now where is the wisdom of allowing someone from India enter Malawi?
According to the nation online post quoting Dr. Matthews Kagoli of Public Health of Malawi (PHIM), the country had not confirmed any case of corona virus as at 13:00 hours Thursday April 2, 2020, a few hours later President Mutharika was on TV confirming three cases. It is against this background that CDEDI is appealing to the Parliamentary Committee on Health to wake up and use their oversight powers to investigate the matter and give accurate information to Malawians.
All these issues raised above gives us an impression that government is either playing double standards or else it is a clear case of negligence in handling the whole matter!
President Mutharika owes Malawians an explanation because from his statement it is either he was misinformed or is sitting on vital information he is not ready to share with Malawians.
2. CDEDI is also concerned with government’s total disregard to cushion the poor Malawians that are suffering due to the stringent measures it has put in place in the face of the pandemic. We are particularly shocked to note that since the advent of the Covid-19 has pushed down prizes of oil in the world market.
The world over, business has come to a standstill thereby reducing the demand for oil. Why then Malawians are paying exorbitant pump prices? According to the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Monetary Policy Committee, oil prices have declined to a record lowest in 18 years whereby “The decline in prices is on account of reduced demand following a slack in global economic activity amidst COVID 19 outbreak as well as the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.”
President Mutharika should therefore tell the nation as to why Malawians are still buying fuel at an exorbitant price when RBM thinks otherwise?
CDEDI just like all well meaning Malawians believes that government has a lot of work to do in order to get the confidence deserving a government in control.
Lastly, but not the least, we would like to maintain our earlier call for government to subsidize public transport fares in order to cushion the poor that commutes to and from their work places and small scale business. On the larger picture, government should be working on modalities to feed the poor in an event of the possible lockdown.
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