Hon. Folks, it appears the coming in of the new government has crafted some sort of weird vibe among many citizens towards certain affairs in the country as some seemingly no longer worry about the risks, their stances on themselves or the wider population.
For instance, there was a sturdy backlash on the government this week after Capital Hill gazzeted new rules to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 which has so far claimed over 150 lives and cumulatively infected about 4 800 others since Malawi confirmed its first case on April 2.
The government announced the wearing of face masks in public places mandatory with a K10 000 fine upon conviction for failure to abide by the rules, among others.
However, the most controversial part of the new rules is a ban on public gatherings exceeding 10 people, except for funerals (restricted to 50 people only), a meeting of Parliament and meetings convened to discuss Covid-19 interventions.
This has since ruffled a few feathers among them religious groupings such as the General Assembly of the CCAP church, the Prophetic Ministries Association of Malawi (Promam) and the Pastors Task Force which rejected the government’s move to restrict the number of congregants to 10.
At their separate meetings, both CCAP General Assembly and Promam sent one clear message to the government; they were ambushed with the newly gazzeted measures and ‘religiously’ vowed to defy the same claiming they were never consulted in the formulation process.
Certainly, we recognise some truth in the grievances by these religious institutions, especially on the argument that the new restrictions were simply imposed on the citizenry without ‘appropriate’ consultations.
Apart from this, there are also many contestations advanced by some quarters of society virtually trying to portray a picture of the government that is busy attempting to squeeze its own people to bloody pulp under the mask of the pandemic.
In spite of the ongoing disagreements between the government and other quarters, however, it is still important for Malawians to look at the bigger picture and critically figure out how the deadly coronavirus has devastated the world.
Let us take South Africa, for instance, which is among the few African countries widely revered to be hinged on the foundations of defiance probably over its anti-apartheid background.
Just four months ago, the rainbow country was grappling with the pandemic roughly in the region of what Malawi and other countries are today and the government quickly imposed one of the stringiest lockdowns in the world to contain the spread of the virus.
However, what resulted next were a series of protests and looting by some citizens who openly detested the restrictive measures.
In no time the infections spiked to somewhat uncontainable levels today due to what others attributed to citizens’ growing tendency of sticking a chin out at authority and being sceptical of the government regulations meant to protect them.
Sadly today—with pubic defiance to government measures as one of the possible contributing factors—South Africa anchors the list of the world’s five worst hit countries with over 11 000 Covid-19 deaths and about 570 000 infections.
Hon. Folks, these are some of the lessons that this country needs to digest at this critical moment. Remember, Covid-19 is real and we all have one life to live. Actually, it is always everyone for himself or herself and God for us all.