Musicians have questioned the rationale behind banning gatherings of more than 100 people as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic when politicians are freely holding campaign rallies.
In a Facebook post, gospel artist Thocco Katimba said he had observed with disbelief the way politicians, including the country’s leadership, conducted rallies and whistle-stop tours during the presentation of nomination papers for the July 2 presidential election.
He wrote: “I have observed with keen interest how politicians have handled their affairs. I have seen that they are not observing social distancing at all. They are running their businesses as usual.
“My question is; is the pandemic over? I guess in all fairness, authorities should as well allow us musicians to hold shows as many of us rely on live shows for our daily bread. Can you please help us?”
The post stirred a debate that attracted more than 200 comments, generally condemning the politicians while at the same time supporting Katimba on the matter.
Wrote Esther Make Jeremiah: “Yambani ma show. Musafinyike achimwene anga [start holding live shows. Don’t be contrained].”
Commenting on the matter, Black Missionaries Band manager Ras Ray Harawa said politicians are the mirror of society such that the population will follow what their leaders are doing.
He said: “They are the ones who told us about social distancing and now they have abandoned their own advice. As artists, we have been on ‘lockdown’ for two months now without a major source of income which are live shows.
“We would like to get clarity from our leaders as to what this all means. Otherwise, you cannot put strict measures on musicians [activities] and allow political rallies to go ahead with no precautions.”
The Ma Blacks manager said, as artists, they are observing the situation and may have to resort to measures that will help them survive.
“At the moment, I am calling on authorities to talk to us about this matter,” he said.
Weighing in on the matter, Krazy Colours Band leader Cynthia Britt said though she acknowledges the seriousness of Covid-19, artists need to continue working to feed their families.
She said: “If politicians are busy campaigning, which can easily spread coronavirus, then, they should let musicians continue with live shows.”
Britt added what should now happen is personal responsibility, saying every person going to a gathering should look after themselves in terms of protective gear such as masks.
Artist Bucci said it is confusing for artists, bearing in mind that politicians are not taking heed of Covid-19 measures.
He said: “You see the rallies and you wonder. Does it mean we have to go back to work? Students go back to school? What does it really say about coronavirus? I can’t tell what the best move is right now but knowing that everyone is trying to survive this hard season we might need to be told the way forward.”
Club 20 Four 7 owner Macdonald Soko said politicians are playing double standards.
“Musicians, promoters and club owners are struggling because of the measures. And then you see politicians freely holding mass rallies. This is not fair,” he said.
Government spokesperson Mark Botomani acknowledged that politicians are not observing social distancing rules as recommended by President Peter Mutharika.
“We are equally worried. I am sure that after the new committee meets this week, we will see the way forward,” he said.