Timothy Mtambo: CFT leader

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—As lockdown is being lauded in hotspot countries for yielding positive results in facing the challenge of COVID-19, Malawi leader Peter Mutharika has become a centre of fierce criticisms following his declaration of the same on Tuesday April 14, 2020.

In his televised address, Mutharika announced a 21-day national lockdown which will initially be effective at midnight on Saturday, 18th April, 2020 and it will end on Saturday 9th May, 2020, at midnight as the country’s coronavirus figures surged on Monday to 16 from 12.

However, opposition parties and other political activists have criticised the president for failing to announce any tangible measures to alleviate pain of millions of poor Malawians in his address to the nation on Tuesday.

In a statement released today April 15, the Citizens for Transformation (CFT), a newly formed movement, has demanded the government to announce specific welfare measures to help the poor people saying the lockdown will trigger job losses due to economic disruptions.

“While the Covid-19 lockdown might be a sensible and practical approach towards containing the spread of the pandemic in other countries, the same cannot be said of Malawi whose majority of the citizens is in dire financial doldrums, unless measures have been clearly outlined to cushion their suffering that is bound to result from their locked ability to fend.

“Apart from promising the small and medium enterprises the highly politicized MEDEF loan, government has not come out clear how it is going to cushion the majority of vulnerable Malawians, including child-headed families, struggling women, the youth and the elderly during this copied lockdown which lacks support of our domestic laws on how it has been styled,” reads the statement in part.

CFT has further questioned the legality of the lockdown saying there was gross violation of the Malawi constitution in coming up of Public Health (Corona Virus Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules.

“These Rules are purportedly made under the scheme of “Subsidiary Legislation”, which is legislation made using powers delegated to the Executive branch of Government or any other eligible public entity through an Act of Parliament. It therefore follows that the Minister of Health has purported to make the Covid-19 Rules under the Public Health Act (Cap. 34:01 of the Laws of Malawi).

“However, this very Act, in the prism of section 58(2) of the Constitution of Malawi, which guides on how to make Subsidiary Legislation, has been grossly violated. This section of the Constitution does not even permit the Parliament to delegate the legislative powers to the Executive or any public entity where the underlying matters thereof would substantially and significantly affect fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by the Constitution,” the statement further reads.

Asked on whether they will seek court order restraining the lockdown from being implemented, CFT’s director of communications, Negracious Al-Majiduh Justin said the movement will only give the needed support to some groupings that have already embarked on that route.

“CFT has noted, already that 4 “parties” (constituting HRDC and 3 individuals) have joined front to embark on that route. CFT will only give them the support that is needed,” said Al-Majiduh.

Lockdown has been used by most countries as the last resort in containing the covid-19 pandemic which is ravaging the world.

Pakistan President Dr. Arif Alvi has recently lauded the national lockdown for yielding positive results.

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