By Rebecca Chimjeka & Pilirani Kachinziri:
President Lazarus Chakwera has described as devastating the death of two members of Parliament (MPs) that succumbed to Covid Wednesday.
“My heart is heavy with grief by the passing of Hon Jacqueline Chikuta, Member of Parliament for Ntchisi North, who has passed on just days after we laid her husband to rest, as well as Hon John Chikalimba, Member of Parliament for Zomba Changalume. The loss of two patriotic and productive legislators on the same day is devastating.
“My sincere condolences to the bereaved families and friends of these fallen soldiers of the people, but also to their constituents, the Speaker [of the National Assembly], and all members of Parliament. As we pray for God’s strength and comfort for us as a nation during this crisis, may these and all the souls we have lost to this pandemic rest in peace,” Chakwera said.
According to Presidential Taskforce on Covid co-Chairperson John Phuka, the death of the two lawmakers brings the cumulative number of those that have succumbed to Covid since the first case was registered in Malawi in April last year to 555.
Phuka further indicated, during last night’s daily briefing, that 15 people died in the past 24 hours [as of yesterday evening].
“The good news is that 274 people have recovered from Covid today while, cumulatively, 7,249 people have recovered from Covid,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), its political bedfellow Peoples’ Party (PP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have expressed shock with the death of the parliamentarians.
MCP spokesperson Reverend Maurice Munthali said the party was devastated.
“We, as MCP, are so shocked. We have (of late) lost several members including the first vice president of the party, Sidik Mia. She (Chikuta) was such a hard working lady. She won that seat with all the sacrifice she put in the campaign for the love of Malawi and President Chakwera. May her soul rest in peace,” Munthali said.
PP spokesperson Axon Kalaile Banda said the party was shocked with the death.
DPP spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira said the party was “grieving” with Malawians.
Mpinganjira said former president Peter Mutharika and DPP members were equally “shocked” with news of the demise of the legislators, urging people to follow precepts of health experts.
“And as we mourn the loss of our parliamentarians, we would like to appeal to every Malawian to strictly follow all Covid preventive measures,” the statement reads.
Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara also expressed shock at the deaths yesterday.
According to Gotani Hara, Chikuta passed away Wednesday at Mtengowanthenga Hospital in Mponela, Dowa District, where she was undergoing treatment while Chikalimba died on the same day at Zomba Central Hospital in Zomba.
Until his death Chikalimba was PP’s Chief Whip in Parliament and Budget Committee of Parliament Vice Chairperson.