As was the case last year, this festive season has been dampened by the announcement of new Covid-19 public restrictions following a rise in new infections.
Minister of Health and co-chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda announced the new measures yesterday, which include restricting indoor public gatherings to 100 and 250 for outdoor events.
The measures also include a curfew that will see bars close at 10pm as government tries to contain the fourth wave of the global pandemic.
The minister said Malawi is on level alert.
But the announcement of the new restrictions has not gone down well with a number of arts players who described them as unfair and a threat to their livelihood.
Black Missionaries Band manager Ras Ray Harawa said the development is hurting and that as a group they have received it is with so much pain.
“It is unfortunate that when government is implementing some of these things they forget that we are their children. A parent first looks at the welfare of their children and that is not being done,” he said.
Harawa said it was important for government to first review if measures implemented in the past achieved any gains or just worsened the economic situation of the country by stifling small businesses such as the creative industry.
In a separate interview, Poetry Association of Malawi president Robert Chiwamba also noted that most of the measures effected appear to target the creative sector while leaving other sectors to go freely.
He said: “We understand that most of the things we do depend on life and we also know that the disease is there. But it would have been fair if uniform standards were set in implementing these measures. It doesn’t make sense to allow politicians to do their business as normal while restricting the art sector.”
On his part, Bar Owners Association of Malawi general secretary Mcdonald Soko said it is unfortunate that government seems to have completely forgotten businesses which are the source of many people’s livelihoods.
He said: “People rely on these businesses for survival and now they are being penalised by these measures. Government should not forget that they have a social responsibility to guarantee people’s right to earn a living.”
Musicians Union of Malawi president Gloria Manong’a pleaded with government to consider making special arrangements to enable artists access business loans.
National Theatre Association of Malawi president Max Chiphinga said: “This is not fair on artists. I think social distance and mask usage should be emphasised, unlike these measures. Artists have already suffered for the past two years financially.” Malawi first recorded its first coronavirus case on March 20 2020 and currently it has 62 933 confirmed cases with 2 310 deaths.