So, after noticing that the Covid-19 case numbers have started declining, government has seen it fit to relax further some of the set preventive measures for the pandemic. Well, I am glad that the attack by this deadly monster that is coronavirus has started receding but I am a bit skeptical in as far as relaxing the set preventive measures is concerned.
Yes, we have to play a delicate balancing act between keeping coronavirus in check and allowing business activity to continue. This indeed is a sure way of injecting life in the local economy by allowing people to go about their business but government must be careful not to overplay its hand.
I mean, we all saw how hysterical everyone was when at the onset; Covid-19 started claiming lives of our loved ones, one after the other. It was quite an unpleasant experience and I doubt if anyone would ever want to experience anything like that again. Back then, we were all under the illusion that people who were returning from other countries were the ones responsible for the spread but then not long after that did we learn that there had been local Covid-19 contacts even prior to that.
My point is, government should not be reckless and careless by opening up too much, least we be taken unawares by the pandemic. How many people would voluntarily see to it that at a particular open door gathering, only 250 people as per government’s recent recommendation, have gathered? Just try to picture a political rally, seeing that by-elections are upon us, now would a politician out to seek votes on a campaign trail give regard to the revised crowd limitation? I am sure that even the 100 people indoor limit will be prone to abuse, since some overzealous people might just think that the declining numbers mean the worst is over which is not necessarily the case.
By the way, is the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 still active or it is now restricted to the Covid-19 press briefings? There is still a lot that leaves to be desired in as far as our preparedness to deal with the worst is concerned which is why one expert last week proposed that Capital Hill should actually use the recent downturn in Covid-19 numbers as an opportunity to strengthen the country’s response systems.
During morning hours on Wednesday, it was reported that 20 students at Ruviri Community Day Secondary School in Rumphi District had tested positive to Coronavirus and I’m certain that there could even be more people out there who have contracted the disease since the restrictions were eased…what with our porous borders.
We must remain vigilant against the pandemic and not revert to default settings.
Time is ticking
A lot of people were left speechless last week after government came out to announce the increase in price of fertiliser under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) from the previous K4,495 to K7,500. Not that it was unexpected, just that It was surprising because not long ago, authorities had slammed private traders who had increased prices of the commodity on the commercial market to as high as K40,000 from K24,000 or thereabout.
One was left with the impression that perhaps all was well, more so after President Lazarus Chakwera came out forcefully to thwart plans by the Ministry of Agriculture to trim the number of AIP beneficiaries in response to shifting market dynamics, most notably a rise in prices elsewhere.
Well, this is Malawi where you can afford to promise one thing and end up delivering the other. It was not long ago when the Tonse Alliance, led by President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima, during the campaign for the highly contentious 2019 general election, crisscrossed the length and breadth of the country, telling all and sundry that people would be buying fertiliser at K4,495. Little did anyone know that this would be a one-time phenomenal.
Whatever happened to the idea of setting up our own fertiliser manufacturing company? Better yet, why have we not promoted the organic fertilisers that are being produced by some of the industrious sons and daughters of the land? The options are just too many but perhaps it is all because we are far too blinded to see the long term benefits since our focus remains on the immediate term.
If our politicians desire to meet their obligations as spelled out during the campaign time, then they must nurse that hunger which would drive them into exploring better options of serving the people, especially where agricultural issues such as those of farm inputs are concerned. For now though, they must realise that time waits for no man and indeed time is ticking; soon the planting season will be upon us.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).