The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has said the six-month Covid-19 Social Cash Transfer Programme to cushion needy citizens will roll out in May.
In an interview on Wednesday, the ministry’s spokesperson Willams Banda said following President Peter Mutharika’s directive on Tuesday, they have started facilitating the cash transfers.
He said: “The target group will be hotspot areas in the peri-urban. These are the likes of Kaliyeka and Mtandire [in Lilongwe], and Ndirande and Lunzu [in Blantyre] and will also include the disadvantaged.
“The programme will roll out in May for six months. We are also working to address the rural areas’ risk groups and we are working with councils on this.”
Banda said the cash transfers will help households to meet their basic needs and to recover from the effects of travel and work restrictions which the government has put in place in the face of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
In his national address, Mutharika said government will proceed to effect travel and work restrictions to contain Covid-19 that has killed three people and infected 36.
Two weeks ago, government planned to effect a lockdown to fight the spread of the pandemic; but the plan was thwarted when some civil society organisations and concerned individuals secured a High Court injunction that on Tuesday this week sustained the petitioners’ grounds.
In his address, Mutharika dissolved the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 he had appointed earlier and replaced it with an inclusive Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
However, government spokesperson Mark Botomani, who is also Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, assured that the task force will be operational soon since Covid-19 issues need rapid action.
On April 14 2020, Mutharika announced a lockdown in exercise of his powers under the Public Health Act, which was supposed to be effective from April 18 to May 9, 2020.
However, on April 17, Church and Society of CCAP Livingstonia Synod, Human Rights Defenders Coalition and others took an injunction on the lockdown, saying it was not well thought of looking at the lifestyle of Malawians who are mostly living below the poverty line.
Chancellor College Professor of law Garton Kamchedzera said: “It appears that the government wants to continue to try and disuse, abuse, and mutilate the law, taking advantage of people’s fear of Covid-19.“The President should have acted accordingly, within, and under the law. The Malawi Law Society’s free advice issued recently on how to proceed constitutionally and legally would be a plausible start for this government to be legally guided and be effective. n