Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at the weekend defied measures such as a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people President Peter Mutharika announced to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
During a political rally at Chibavi Primary School ground in Mzuzu on Friday, more than 100 party supporters were seen gathered without observing physical or social distancing as prescribed by the World Heal th Organisat ion (WHO). The meeting was meant to welcome about 200 youths alleged to have defected from other political parties.
In attendance were several high-ranking DPP officials, including the party’s vice-president (North) and presidential aide Goodall Gondwe, regional governor (North) Christopher Mzomera Ngwira and Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Kamlepo Kalua.
When contacted yesterday on why the DPP is defying government’s policy on limiting public gatherings in the wake of Covid-19, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi asked for more time to find out about the issue.
“Let me find out,” he said briefly. Ironically, Dausi was a member of the recently dissolved Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus which announced some of the precautionary measures.
But while the crowd exceeded the prescribed maximum of 100, Ngwira said the party is observing all Covid-19 preventive measures.
“We have observed physical/social distancing measures by sitting at least a metre away targeting DPP members. election demonstrations, mostly
“We have changed our name from Isweke Isweke to DPP comrades. We will be working with DPP and do acts of charity such as cleaning our streets and supporting development policies of the DPP,” he said.
Gondwe said the party has forgiven and welcomed back the youth into the party. Commenting on the DPP rallies, political commentator George Phiri said the governing party should be leading by example in observing Covid-19 preventive measures.
He said: “They need to be exemplary because we all know this is a DPP-led government and the police are an arm of government. They [police] cannot be chasing people away from churches while letting DPP hold large public gatherings.”
In his10-paged address titled Remarks by the Right Honourable State Vice-President of the Republic of Malawi on the National Situation and Response to Covid-19, the country’s estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima—who fell out with President Peter Mutharika and quit DPP in June 2018 to form UTM Party and challenged his political mentor in the disputed May 21 2019 presidential election—also faulted some Cabinet ministers for allegedly holding campaign rallies with hundreds of people in contravention of social distancing measures championed by Ministry of Health as a Covid-19 precautionary measure