Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations. — Isaiah 62:10
Former US president Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool all the people some of the time and you can fool some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
This surely is ringing true for Malawi. It has been a packed week, with leaders from the ruling party and opposition parties making statements on the Covid-19 and other things; the week has also been spiced up with ministers caught on the microphone counting ill-begotten gains and elections monitoring agencies loading the country’s voter register with extremely old and extremely young voters. However, amid all the to-dos, vulnerable Malawian families will get cash transfers.
As Covid-19 reached Malawi, this column advised that all the leaders must speak, underscoring that leaders of big and small entities, ruling or opposition, have captive audiences, and, therefore, their voices are vital in reaching every corner of the country.
First up on the call was the address on Sunday by UTM Party leader, who is also the country’s Vice-President, Dr. Saulos Chilima. A well-rounded statement on all current concerns in the hearts of Malawians.
Then Tuesday evening, President Mutharika’s address. This was the third time the President spoke to Malawians during the pandemic since April 2.
During a meeting with Public Affairs Committe on Wednesday, the President accused the religious group of not condemning the political violence that has rocked the country for the past nine months. He also talked about his opponents not accepting the election results, triggering violence in the country; and then turned his ire toward the High Court, blaming it for failing to bring justice to the country.
After a 13-paragraph diatribe about what he expects from the group, he told PAC that he has reconstituted the Covid-19 ministerial committee to be Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus, which he said will also have a representative from the opposition and public health officials to take “a leading role alongside the government”.
While we applaud this turnaround, it is also appreciated that the government will give vulnerable families $40 (K35 000) per month during the pandemic. Malawi currently has 37 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 744 tests performed, 27 active cases, three deaths, and seven recovered cases. This is a good set of statistics and everyone is hopeful it can remain this low.
Before the fanfares continue to crescendo, the pause button is pushed to take in the press conference of MCP president Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, whose presser was enhanced with a presentation on findings on the ongoing voter registration process managed by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and National Registration Bureau (NRB).
The presentation highlighted the alleged dubious and sometimes outright ludicrous activities by MEC and NRB in the registration process dating back to 2017 and 2018. The presentation showed that NRB and MEC registered people that were born in 1897, some whose sexes changed between the time they were getting the national IDs from the NRB to the time they were receiving their registration certificates from MEC. It also showed that some registered voters were minors or had name changes.
Who is running this sideshow circus? Malawi has a fresh presidential election in two months!
In closing, there are some crucial items for Malawi leadership and the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus to consider.
The first is in line with what Dr. Nyengo Mkandawire said this week. Malawi must be serious in fighting the pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and other hospital officials, military, police, sanitation workers, are the frontline workers and the ones at real risk in the pandemic. Secondly, Malawi’s natural resources such as masuku, mpinimbi, and neem trees must be urgently and jealously protected. We should never wake up one day to find all these carted off to some distant lands, only to return as pills and drink portions in very expensive bottles.