A few weeks ago, I wrote about Malawi not being prepared for Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic fight. This was way before the country announced the first three cases. One could see how chaotic and disorganised government was, including the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19. They couldn’t come up with a clear roadmap on the preventive measures as well as articulating how well prepared the country is.
The mother of chaos is what the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 has been displaying. They organise a press briefing where the Minister of Health, who also chairs the committee, makes pronouncement regarding number of cases and any other updates on Covid-19. Then other ministers chip in. From there, it’s chaos all the way.
Government and its agencies continue to send conflicting messages, especially on measures taken to prevent further spread of the virus. Almost every ministry and city council has come up with measures that in so many ways contradict the overarching national precautionary measures. One wonders if there is truly anyone leading the fight against Covid-19, and if the country is serious about containing the virus.
Last week, I wrote that the President should lead and champion the Covid-19 fight. Instead, he has let the politically-charged Cabinet committee to lead.
The chaos is also evident in messages coming from various city councils. Lilongwe City Council banned all public gatherings, including weddings, church and open markets that take place in some trading centre.
It also banned pubs and clubs from operating. However, the council later changed tune on some public gathering such as funerals, allowing them to continue, but restricted to not more than 50 people and also drawing up a schedule for burials at Area 18 Cemetery. Who will do the counting to ensure that there are indeed 50 people and that all of them are the deceased’s close relations?
Blantyre City Council has been making a fool of itself. It banned public gatherings including weddings only to rescind the decision a day later to allow weddings, bridal showers and funeral gatherings to continue as long as they observe precautionary measures such physical distancing, hand washing and sanitising.
And then there is Zomba City Council that honestly believes that it is possible for some in a drunken state to observe social distancing such that the council says bars, pubs and clubs can continue to operate as long as imbibers wash hands, sanitise and observe social distancing. The jokes need to stop.
Clearly, there is total confusion in the strategy that government has adopted; hence, sending conflicting messages.
Government has to be decisive in ensuring that the measures are adhered to and followed to the letter. We cannot afford to have one city council giving a go-ahead with funerals and church gatherings and another banning while the other relaxes the measures. In whose interest are these relaxed measures?
There are so many lessons to be learnt from countries where leaders failed to be decisive. Their indecisiveness has cost many lives and brought their countries’ economies to their knees. Malawi can be rescued. It’s not too late to engage another gear and come up with solid and binding measures that must be adhered to by everyone.