Opinion: Defying COVID-19 Precautionary Measures Regrettable

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Failure by Malawi political leaders to enforce COVID-19 precautionary measures among their supporters in the past three days show how the country is losing the fight against the deadly pandemic.

This week, the country has witnessed supporters of main political parties namely Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ,Malawi Congress Party (MCP) , United Democratic Front (UDF) party and UTM party defying COVID-19 precautionary measures such as social distancing.

I am completely doubting if the supporters were either sanitizing their hands using alcohol based sanitizer or washing hands frequently with soap when they were rallying behind their political gods.

On Wednesday, MCP and UTM party (Tonse Alliance) supporters engulfed the city of Blantyre to escort their candidates, Dr Lazurus Chakwera and Dr Saulos Chilima (Presidential candidate and runningmate respectively) to submit their nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) at Mount Soche Hotel ahead of 2nd July, 2020 fresh presidential polls.

The crowd of supporters were zero centimetre apart chanting songs praising their political leaders. The leaders didn’t bother to inform them to observe social distancing when they were parading in Ndirande location and Blantyre Central District (CBD) among other areas.

On Thursday , the incumbent Malawi President, Peter Mutharika also did the same. The road from Sanjika Palace to Mount Soche Hotel was painted blue and yellow by DPP and UDF party supporters since the two parties signed an electoral alliance. The supporters were not observing social distancing.

The failure to observe social distancing became worse when Mutharika submitted his nomination papers to Malawi MEC and announced UDF party President Atupele Muluzi as his runningmate.

It was the time of parading in the commercial city of Blantyre to express their readiness to defeat the UTM-MCP alliance on 2nd July, 2020. DPP and UDF supporters had no time to wash their hands with soap frequently, sanitize their hands using alcohol based sanitizer or observe social distancing.

COVID-19 spreads fast in overcrowded areas and if some people were positive for the disease, it is likely that many contracted the virus which is a threat to their lives.

The political leaders and their supporters were indirectly ignoring the existence of the disease which is not a valid reason to say COVID-19 is not in Malawi.

2020 will be in the history of the country as a year when Judiciary proved that separation of powers and rule of law are the fundamentals of good governance.

2020 has seen the country’s High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court nullifying presidential election results for the first time in history. I mean for the first time in the entire life of the “warm heart of Africa.”

The Constitutional Court said Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) failed to conduct the 21st May, 2019 presidential polls inline with the electoral laws of the land.

The use of erasing fluid called Tippex made the presidential election results illegal, according to the Constitutional Court.

“The position of this court is that the widespread use of Tippex greatly undermined the integrity of the elections so much that applying the qualitative approach, the argument by the second respondent (Malawi Electoral Commission) that the valid vote count was not affected and that no monitor came forward to raise a complaint does not matter and this argument is thrown out”, the Constitutional Court ruling stated in part.

The nullification of the results didn’t go well with Malawi Electoral Commission and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. They went to Supreme Court of Appeal challenging the jugdement of the Constitutional Court.

Today, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of Constitutional Court that made MCP and UTM supporters to jubilate in the streets of Lilongwe. The supporters didn’t bother to observe COVID-19 precuationary measures which is worrisome. Ignoring the existence of COVID-19 in the country is dangerous. Our political leaders should always be at the forefront of the fight against the disease.