By Thandie Chandiyani

Fix the economy before introducing mandatory covid-19 vaccination

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has today in a press statement urged the Tonse Alliance administration under President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to fix the economy first before experimenting with laws that touch on the chore of human rights.

Sylvester Namiwa executive director of CDEDI wrote “It is important to highlight right at the onset that it is human nature to fight bad laws, therefore, Government should tread carefully in its bid to roll out the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination campaign at a time when Malawians are in need of an economic recovery plan, which is complete with measures to cushion marginalised and vulnerable people in our society”.

Mandatory Covid-19 vaccination which is expectedly going to face resistance from citizens, majority of whom are riddled with effects of economic challenges.

“If the story carried in Nation on Sunday newspaper of 5th December 2021 is anything to go by, I fear for the worse that Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has nodded to government’s wish to take the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination path”.

September 9, 2021 CDEDI wrote the AG seeking government’s position on mandatory Covid-19 vaccination campaign which, unfortunately, is being silently implemented by some private institutions, including both local and international organisations, and some government institutions.

However, despite formally writing back to CDEDI on September 10, 2021 acknowledging receipt of the letter, to date, CDEDI has not received any response from the AG regarding Malawi Government’s position on Covid-19 mandatory vaccination.

In his acknowledgement, Nyirenda assured that the letter was receiving the necessary attention, and that he would write again to give a concrete response on the matter after making what he termed as “necessary consultations” with relevant authorities directly involved in the matter.

As a reminder, CDEDI wrote the AG seeking Malawi Government’s position on the silent policy of ‘NO VACCINE NO WORK’ being implemented by some public and private institutions in the country.

Earlier, CDEDI wrote the minister of Health on the same, but never got a response.

“I strongly believe that citizens have a right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated. So while some citizens can freely choose life and go for the vaccine others can also choose life by deciding not to take the jab. It should not be a compulsory affair. Therefore, government needs to tread carefully on this matter to avoid trampling on the right to privacy, religion and conscious of the citizens”.

CDEDI has further urged government to take a human rights approach when thinking about mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.

“Such emotive measures should be taken alongside tangible measures to recover the economy and cushion the poor to avoid a situation where those who will have been saved from the pandemic die needlessly due to unprecedented essential drug stock outs in our public health facilities, coupled with starvation and hunger due to the tough economic situation on the ground.

“We urge the government not to divert people’s attention from their cries for better living conditions brought by its poor economic policies by delving into emotive human rights issues such as mandatory vaccination,” he said.

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