President Lazarus Chakwera will today travel to Tanzania to attend the funeral of the neighbouring country’s fallen president John Pombe Magufuli with health activists cautioning against lack of observance of Covid-19 preventive measures.
When Chakwera visited Magufuli in Tanzania last October, he did not wear a face mask, arguing “it was a question of balancing Malawi’s tradition and diplomacy” as Tanzania does not follow Covid-19 rules as other countries do.
In separate interviews yesterday, Society of Medical Doctors president Dr Victor Mithi and health rights activist Maziko Matemba said the President and his delegation to Tanzania should maintain their observance of Covid-19 measures, especially in light of a looming third wave of the pandemic.
But in an interview yesterday, State House Press Secretary Brian Banda said the Malawi delegation will follow all Covid-19 preventive measures as the President mourns “his friend”.
He said: “The President and every Malawian forming part of the delegation will observe all Covid-19 precautionary measures. These include social distancing, wearing of masks, and washing of hands.
“The focus of the President now is on mourning his friend Magufuli. So, it’s not about him, he doesn’t want the news to be on him. But as I said, all measures will be followed.”
According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, Chakwera is expected to leave Malawi this morning at 5.30am, and return later at 15.30pm.
Meanwhile, Mithi and Matemba have urged caution, especially with reports of a third wave of Covid-19 in Eastern Africa.
Matemba said while Malawi should pay respects to the Tanzanian fallen leader, the delegation should send a message that Covid-19 is real by following all preventive measures.
He said: “All foreign delegates need to remind Tanzania that Covid-19 kills, and as in a regional integration we intermingle a lot.”
On his part, Mithi said they expect the leadership to send the same message that it does in Malawi to other countries.
Magufuli, 61, established a strong rapport with Chakwera following their meeting last October.
During the meeting, Magufuli pledged to improve the road and transport infrastructure connecting Malawi to strategic ports in Dar es Salaam and Mtwara to facilitate trade between the two countries.
He died on March 17 2021 of heart complications, accoording to Tanzanian Government .