Barely three days after Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda along with other members of the Presidential Committee on Covid-19 announced that government has gazetted new rules governing Covid-19 prevention, government has u-turned from its August 9 2020 announcement and bowed down to mounting pressure, especially from faith groups who questioned limiting the number of people during public gatherings.
In some faith groups’ reasoning, restricting the number of people during church gatherings to 10 was as good as telling them to close the churches. Other faith groups blatantly said that they were ready to defy the government order and fill up the churches because they felt government was “fighting God” with the new rules. They reasoned that people need to pray more now than ever to defeat Covid-19, a global pandemic that has not spared even men of collar.
In its defence, government says it is a listening government that is why it has u-turned on its earlier decision. There is a thin line between being a listening government and being an indecisive government that cannot firmly stand for what it says.
Indecision is worse than a bad decision. Indecision simply shows that you can easily be swayed by the blowing wind and shift your goals. Does government know what it wants to achieve with the rules it has set out and does it believe in these rules? If, for instance, other stakeholders say they feel 100 people are too little, but should be 1000 instead during public gatherings, what will be government’s reason for denying them the same and sticking to 100 when you can easily change from 10 to 100?
The decision to revert to 100 people during public gathering is going to undermine government’s Covid-19 fight. This is the time government should have been encouraging people to stay home and go out only when it is absolutely necessary to do so.
These are hard times that require tough decisions to be made and sticking to them. Covid-19 has disrupted the normal way of doing things and with it changes and new ways have to be made and embraced by all if Malawi is going to contain the virus. Trying to please a certain section of the society will prove to be catastrophic in the long run. The indecision displayed by government has potential to undermine its authority.
What is a church without the people in it? It is selfish for men of collar to think that they can continue to congregate and transact their business as if there is no Covid-19. This virus does not discriminate whether you are men of God or not. What manner of men of God want their sheep to be devoured?
Malawians need to remember that every individual has a role to play in defeating Covid-19. As an individual, make a decision to protect yourself and your family as well as those around you. If doing so means staying away from church buildings and other public gatherings, please do so.
As for Tonse government, it is good that you say you are a listening government, but also be firm with decisions that are good for all Malawians and not just a few selfish group of people. Covid-19 is real. Malawians are dying. Malawi expects government to offer sound solutions to contain the disease. Don’t allow to be undermined by a few men of collar operating from rented buildings.