Some civil society organisations (CSOs) say the forthcoming July 2 fresh presidential election poses a threat to efforts to fight the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe expressed the sentiments yesterday in reaction to revelations that Malawians living in diaspora are mobilising resources to buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers in the country.
He said the way political parties are holding campaign rallies in total disregard of Covid-19 precautionary measures leaves a lot to be desired.
Said Jobe: “Most of the party followers are not following regulations which government set aside in the quest to fight against the deadly pandemic which has since claimed thousands of lives across the globe.”
His observation is shared by health rights activist Maziko Matemba who expressed shock that despite government putting measures aimed at fighting Covid-19, politicians are mobilising thousands of people for campaign rallies.
M a l a w i D i a s p o r a Network has since embarked on fundraising activities that will see Malawi receiving assorted PPEs worth a minimum of K10 million.
The PPEs which will be donated will not be the first of its kind in the country as Chinese philanthropist Jack Ma was the first to donate equipment to Malawi and other African Union member States.
L a s t week, some volunteers from around the globe working under the banner Masks4All also pledged to donate for free over 19 million masks for all Malawians regardless of their ages.
But yesterday, Jobe said despite all the efforts made, the only challenge remains the July 2 fresh presidential election.
He said: “The major challenge now is the election and political campaign. We need solutions on how we can be conducting
campaigns. Political parties can locally produce masks to be used at political rallies.” campaigns. Political parties can
In an interview, Ministry of Health chief of health services Charles Mwansambo hailed the network for the gesture, but advised that they should avoid politicising the initiative.
He also asked the diaspora network to engage the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) which he said is a neutral political entity.
Mwansambo acknowledged that the high demand of PPEs on the international market is posing a challenge.
Commenting on the observation that political parties are holding rallies without following laid-down regulations, he said government already provided guidelines and direction on the matter.
But Mwansambo said since this is election campaign period, political leaders should find innovative ways of convincing and reaching out to people. He hinted that the development is posing a high rik to the country.
On measures political parties are putting in place in compliance with Covid-19 precautionary measures, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said that every individual has the responsibility to ensure that there is no transmission of the virus
On her part, UTM Party secretary general Patricia Kaliati said the Tonse Alliance is already observing regulations which government put in place.
She said party supporters are using face masks, hand sanitisers and they wash their hands at political gatherings.
Influential politicians from both DPP and United Democratic Front alliance and Tonse Alliance comprising UTM Party, Malawi Congress Party and other parties are holding campaign rallies whose attendance is exceeding the prescribed 100. There is also no observance of social distancing at the rallies.