President Lazarus Chakwera, apparently unsure if his earlier defence of not wearing a mask in Tanzania was convincing, took to the airwaves last night and continued to defend the act.
The President, upon his arrival from Dar es Salaam through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on Thursday, said not wearing a mask was a question of balancing Malawi’s tradition and diplomacy.
Chakwera said he, and his delegation, did not wear masks because in Tanzania they believe the pandemic is over, a position that received wide condemnation back home.
But in his 12th radio address last night, he said while in Tanzania, they observed social distancing and washing of hands and sanitising.
The President explained he did not wear a mask for two reasons; first they were assured of their negative status and that of President John Magufuli’s delegation.
“Before our departure, our whole team was subjected to rigorous testing to ensure that our discussions did not include anyone with the virus.
“As such, confidence in our team and in the Tanzanian team was high that our bilateral talks were coronavirus free,” he said.
Chakwera said they did not wear masks for the same reason people do not wear them in their homes.
“The second reason is that I wanted to build solidarity with President Magufuli by showing him that I trust him. One way of showing that you trust another person is to place yourself in a position of vulnerability and allowing the other person to keep you safe.
“Building this kind of trust is important for our relationship with a country like Tanzania, because without it, mending the bruises that have existed between the two countries would not be possible,” he said.
As a precaution, the President said he has ordered all who went to Tanzania to be tested and monitored closely.
He said by all measures, they had a wonderful visit and their discussions, focused on giving Malawi full and easier access to the ports at Dar es Salaam and Mtwara, had good progress.
The President said they also discussed about removing the obstacles that hinder Malawians and Tanzanians from trading freely with each other across the border.