Malawi and the rest of the world appear set for another partial shutdown, in the face of the second wave of the global coronavirus pandemic.
When many thought the world was about to open up fully, the pandemic has come stinging again. Many nations have started retreating and engaging fresh remedies in trying to contain the disease. And Malawi has not been left out either.
A week ago, the government was forced to move in to get on top of things. The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 announced the new measures in Lilongwe which included reverting to restriction on public gatherings to a maximum of 100 people.
Speaking at a press briefing Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, who is also co-chair of the task force, said government needed to make bold decisions to contain the further spread of the disease.
It effectively meant most if not all artistic live performances were outlawed at least for the next two weeks, according to the government directive. The development was met with dissatisfaction among a lot of players in the creative industry.
A group of concerned musicians mobilised themselves and obtained a court order against government’s directive. And guided by that court action, the musicians went ahead with their live performances during the Christmas and New Year festive season.
But during a press briefing that the task force held on Tuesday afternoon, Kandodo reported that the musicians have lifted the injunction they obtained to stop the task force from effecting the new Covid-19 restrictions.
The minister also reported that the Covid-19 situation is worsening as the number of hospital admissions for Covid-19 jumped from 33 to 55 in 24 hours.
When the country found itself in a similar situation last year, it was clear implementation and policing of the measures was a big challenge. A section of artists proceeded to hold live performances without any known consequences.
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president Gloria Manong’a agrees that indeed the Covid-19 situation has gotten more serious again in the country and as musicians they would not love to be agents of its further spread.
She said the action that musicians took by obtaining the restraining order should not be mistaken for irresponsibility or carelessness.
“We were not consulted and that time a lot of artists had already organised a lot of events and invested money. It would have been hugely unfair to deny them an opportunity to make a little something let alone recoup their investment,” said Manong’a.
She president retaliated that government need to consider providing a bailout package for musicians since they are the most hit during such times.
Manong’a said: “That action of going to court shows how much these people suffer and they will continue to do so. They should be considered during loan disbursement within the different government programmes.”
One of the regular event organisers and hosts, Club 247 director MacDonald Soko, said they understand the problem at hand and appreciate government’s concern on the health matter.
However, he said government should consider providing a cushion to individuals and groups who will be affected negatively by the measures.
Soko said: “There is nobody who can dispute that we have a serious health issue before us. But it is not just a matter of coming up with these restrictions. Let us also think of people who earn their living through performing and host events. There should be something for these people.”
Black Missionaries Band manager Ras Ray Harawa said it is sad that the government effects such restrictions without considerations on how artists will survive financially when they are not performing.
“It is hard and impossible to tell someone who is hungry to stay indoors. At some point that person will try to break free in order to go and search for something to it. If we go by this trend it is either we will die of the disease or hunger,” he said.