By Wezzie Gausi:
The Presidential Taskforce on Covid has come under fire for saying that political rallies are allowed but with a maximum of 250 people as a preventive measure for Covid.
Analysts say this is a lie and a gimmick to allow political parties to hold rallies ahead of by-elections.
At a press briefing on September 11 2021, the taskforce announced the easing of several measures set up to fight Covid.
Among the measures, it said political rallies are now allowed to conduct meetings but they, too, are subject to the same limited number of 100 people for indoor activities and 250 for outdoor activities.
But analysts have described as a lie that political parties can only have 250 people.
University of Livingstonia based analyst George Phiri said the number was unrealistic because, during political rallies there is no one who controls the attendance of people.
“For political rallies it is unrealistic. It is impossible for them to limit numbers. During rallies it is not political leaders that invite people to come but people invite themselves. So, the government should just say they want to open up rallies because of the by-elections that the country is to hold soon,” Phiri said.
Another political analyst Victor Chipofya said it was not practical for political rallies to limit people’s numbers to 250.
Presidential Taskforce on Covid co-Chairperson Winfred Nkhoma said all law-abiding citizens and residents had to comply with the pandemic guidelines.
“Within the law under which the guidelines are formulated, a law enforcement officer may disperse gatherings that do not comply with guidelines and may use reasonable force to disperse such gatherings if there is need to do so,” Nkhoma said.
In October, Malawi will be holding by-elections in three constituencies and one ward.