The coronavirus has hit us hard. The disease the virus causes, Covid-19, has claimed many lives in the short while it has been amid us.
The world at large is at a standstill as lockdowns become the order of the day. Huge areas have been quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus.
The novel virus, reference to one that has never been seen before, has torn into the very fibre of society. No shaking hands and keeping a social distance from friends, relatives and even strangers. When one gets sick, you stay the farthest from them as possible!
Not long ago, you could not enter a bank wearing a mask for you would be floored for a bank robber but today people are encouraged to put on masks even as they transact. Churches, mosques and other places of religion are where one would seek solace when all seems to be lost, but not with this virus. Today the faithful have had to adjust and services are taking no more than 100. Preachers telling their flock ‘auzeni a neba pano ndipeza chozaza’ are gone for that would mean shouting for they would be a metre apart and think of the saliva….
On the other hand, the virus has reminded many the basic principles of hygiene like washing hands, covering the mouth when coughing and so much more. These are little things that matter.
The virus has attacked the richest of this world. It has not seen the line between the First World or Third World, those imaginary economic lines that keep our worlds apart. It has not spared the high walls of royal palaces. Neither has it spared the sanctuaries of men of religion, celebrities, politicians, artists and men on the street.
As I write, Malawi is one of the countries where no one has tested positive of the coronavirus. For the moment, that is good news. Some pessimists would tell you that is because we have no capacity to test. That, I take, as the sour-grape talk of our pessimists.
While we are about it, I am worried about the majority of our populace. As calls to use soap in washing hands, more and more people in the rural people are saying they do not have it. As 86-year-old Chrissy Ntonio of Lirangwe showed, she is ignorant about the coronavirus in as much as she has no soap to wash her body, clothes, let alone hands.
Queer as it may be, our politicians have slackened on this fight. When they want votes, they go into the rural areas and give T-shirts and other campaign materials worth thousands of kwacha yet they can’t spare a little something to buy soap for the constituents in these hard times.
And, by the way, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah says the fresh presidential elections may be affected with the coronavirus. She is not far from the truth, as the voting process from registration to campaigns to the actual voting maybe disrupted if Malawi is to face a lockdown. She said this when she announced that the commission will conduct the polls on July 2.
That is not much of my problem. What I find quite queer is why is Ansah being picky-choosy in implementing what the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruled on February 3? While the court ruled that a 50 percent+1 majority will have to be used to determine the winner, Ansah says the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system will be used.
The ConCourt gave mandate to Parliament to determine when elections can be held within 150 days and the house proposed May 19, but Ansah and her commission have come with their own date: July 2. Following the ConCourt ruling, that date is set 149 days from when the ruling was made.
The ConCourt ruled elections are to be held within 150 days and the Republican Constitution says elections are to be held the third Tuesday of May. Without a constitutional amendment, how does she think to run the election?
Now then, why is Ansah choosing parts of the ruling to suit her ways? As a matter of fact, why is Ansah still so confident she is going to run the elections when the court and Parliament deemed her and other commissioners grossly incompetent in the running of elections?
Even from sleep, everyone knows the May 21 2019 polls were a shambles in so many ways as it was shown in court. Ansah knows that, but for some reason she chooses to ignore the truth and choose her own way.
By the way, the commissioners’ four year term ends this June, how will they run the elections in July if at all that is the case? Like Covid-19, Malawi is in a Constitutional and political crisis that needs a sanitiser to bring our sanity back.