Covid-19 yesterday hit the Malawi Parliament for the second time in two weeks and killed two legislators, John Chikalimba of Zomba Changalume Constituency and Jacqueline Chikuta of Ntchisi North Constituency.
In an interview yesterday, Malawi Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye said Chikalimba of People’s Party (PP) died at Zomba Central Hospital while Chikuta, a first-term Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislator, died at Mtengowanthenga Hospital in Dowa.
And in a statement, the Office of the Speaker of Parliament said the two members of Parliament (MPs) will be laid to rest today in their respective home districts.
Reads the statement in part: “The late Chikuta was also vice-chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Education while the late Chikalimba was also Commissioner of the Parliamentary Service Commission.”
Born on August 21 in 1954, Chikalimba was a three-time MP who first made it to Parliament in 2004. He retained his seat in 2009, but was out of Parliament between 2014 and 2019 when he made a comeback.
Among other roles, Chikalimba served as chief whip in Parliament for PP and vice-chairperson for the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament.
On the other hand, Chikuta was born on July 21 in 1958. She was a first-time MP, having triumphed in the May 21 2019 parliamentary elections.
The death of the two MPs means that Parliament has now lost three legislators to Covid-19 after Lingson Belekanyama of Lilongwe Msinja South Constituency (MCP) who died on January 12 2021.
Belekanyama, who served as minister of Local Government died the same day and barely hours apart with his then Cabinet colleague Mohammad Sidik Mia (Transport and Public Works) who was also MCP first vice-president.
Other prominent personalities who have died of Covid-19 include Traditional Authority Njolomole of Ntcheu, veteran broadcaster Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma, Ministry of Information principal secretary Ernest Kantchentche, media guru and Malawi Human Rights Commission chairperson the Reverend Patrick Semphere, university professors, clergy and other leaders.
President Lazarus Chakwera on Janaury 12 declared a State of National Disaster to trigger resource mobilisation and invoke emergency powers for a minister to implement emergency measures.
Last evening, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka reported that there were 830 new cases from 2 503 tests in 24 hours with 15 deaths and 244 recoveries.
Cumulatively, the country has conducted 135 066 tests since the pandemic was first diagnosed in April 2020. The cumulative recoveries stand at 7 249, active cases at 13 646 and deaths at 555.
While the virus killed 189 between April and December last year, this month alone 360 have succumbed to it, according to data from the Task Force.