The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to make changes to the United Nations peacekeeping entourage and postpone recruitment of new military trainees, Nation on Sunday has learned.
The country is battling Covid-19 rapid spread with over 17 000 registered cases and 445 deaths as of Friday.
MDF was supposed to send peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic of Congo but it has emerged that some, whose names were on the list, were dropped at the eleventh hour after they tested positive for Covid-19.
A source said a delegation left for the Central African war ravaged nation on Thursday after replacements had been drafted in. Those that tested positive are being kept in isolation camps.
Without delving into details, MDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Paul Chiphwanya confirmed that there were Covid-19 cases in the military circles.
“Yes, we have cases and we are following all health protocols to ensure the pandemic doesn’t spread in our bases. We have medical personnel that are doing a wonderful job,” he said.
Chiphwanya could not disclose the number of soldiers that have tested positive.
Meanwhile, MDF has also postponed recruitment of regular military trainees.
A statement published in yesterday’s Weekend Nation, reads: “MDF wishes to inform all applicants shortlisted to attend interviews for basic recruits training that the interviews will not be conducted on the dates earlier communicated due to circumstances beyond management’s control. New dates for the interviews will be communicated soon.”
Chiphwanya, who signed the statement, confirmed in an interview that the Covid-19 cases’ sharp rise had forced the decision.
He, however, said the cadet training which has 250 recruits was still in progress at Malawi Armed Forces College in Salima.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Police Service is also recruiting new trainees though uncertainty engulfs the programme as new anti-Covid-19 measures discourage public gatherings, a constant occurrence during such training.
Asked about the future of the exercise, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said it was ongoing.
“The first part of the recruitment process was done, that of receiving application letters and shortlisting. The second and other parts of the recruitment process when ready, we will inform those concerned,” he said.