The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have postponed state house shutdown mass demonstrations which they planned to take place on Wednesday March 25 2020.
The move according to HRDC leadership is in response to the need to avoid mass gathering as a precaution to the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Addressing the media in Lilongwe on Tuesday March 24 2020, HRDC leaders described the COVID-19 as a matter of life and death and a human rights, social, economic and cultural problem that needs collaborative efforts to fight.
HRDC national coordinator Luke Tembo accused the government of working in isolation by wading off efforts from the opposition, civil society organisations among others.
He said it was the view of the HRDC is that the government decree on Covid-19 was supposed to be inclusive by involving all concerned players just like other nations are joining hands against the deadly virus.
“In other countries we have seen how inclusive the response has been to COVID-19, we need to bring every stakeholder on the table, we need to ensure that the responses are apolitical,” Tembo said.
“He said that what they are seeing right now is that the government is trying to bring in politics into the issue.
“We need the opposition to be on the table in the fight against the virus. In the face of COVID-19, we announce the postponement of our planned demonstrations so that we can join in the fight against the COVID-19,” he said.
He noted that it was very discouraging to note that the current state Vice president and UTM party leader Saulos Chilima was ignored by government when he had put himself up to be part of the response against Coronavirus.
Tembo admitted it was difficult to have the demonstrations amid Coronavirus.
Earlier, government faulted Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM party for getting involved in COVID-19 message dissemination saying it was inappropriate.
In a statement Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communication Technology Mark Botomani said all those wanting to get involved in mass civic education needed to be oriented first to avoid misleading the masses.
Said Botomani: “Incorrect information is a setback to the fight against Coronavirus. In addition, even correct information developed and disseminated wrongly, is a danger as well. Government would like to ask UTM and MCP to cancel their Coronavirus sensitization tours and allow the Ministry of Health officials to take lead”.
Botomani said the UTM, MCP and indeed any other political party, must never use Coronavirus for political gains.
HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo urged the government to use Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to embark on massive civic education programs on Covid-19 than using it to advance political messages.