At the peak of the ravaging second wave of Covid-19, conspicuously missing from duty for about a month-and-a-half was Deputy Minister of Health Chrissie Kalamula Kanyasho who was reportedly on holiday in the USA.
Her absence has since raised questions bordering on her patriotism, work ethic and dedication in regards to the on-going fight against the pandemic.
However, Kanyasho through her Public Relations Officer, Tendai Mganga, said at the time she left Malawi, the situation was not as critical as it has been after the festivities.
Public Service Conditions stipulate that any public servant is entitled to annual leave days upon complet ing a year from appointment date.
This is not the case with Kanyasho who was appointed by President Lazarus Chakwera on July 8, 2020 which is barely six months ago.
Posts from her Facebook page indicate that she left the country on December 22, 2020 and came to Malawi on February 3, 2021.
“Touch down in Lilongwe, thank you Lord for travel mercies,” reads a caption of a picture posted on her Facebook page.
On February 4, 2021 Kanyasho accompanied her line minister at a function where the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) donated K50 million to the Ministry of Health.
An official from the Ministry of Health, who opted for anonymity, said the guidelines stipulate that anybody who has travelled should present a Covid-19 negative certificate which should be followed by self-monitoring.
“When someone presents a negative certificate they are supposed to self-monitor, it is different with self-isolation, the idea came about bearing in mind t hose that come in the country for specific assignments and appointments.
“However, one is discouraged from moving about if they have nothing pressing to attend to, because what if they develop signs between their arrival and the days they have been up and down? It makes contact tracing difficult that is why even in self-monitoring movements are limited,” the source said.
Mganga said Kanyasho requested for an annual leave which was duly approved by the highest office, that of the President.
“Government shut down for holidays for about two weeks and she left on December 19, 2020 and the situation was not critical that time. Let me mention that she usually goes to the States to visit her family [her husband and her children] who live there.
“She is entitled to 30 days annual leave and the protocol was observed. And she travelled on her own expenses she was supposed to report for work on February 2, 2021 and she made it back just on time because she reported for work on that day,” he said.
With regard to requirements for her Covid status, Mganga said Kanyasho tested negative when departing the US.
“If you have a negative certificate you are supposed to self-monitor and she has been doing that. She has been masking up, sanitising and practice social distancing,” he said.
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) Executive Director George Jobe said if she presented an original certificate, then she must have been free and safe from the virus.
“What matters is the precedence because what we know is they must produce a negative result and the person is released. If she complied with the law, the rest is to do with her office and her family but we should also remember that testing is supposed to be done 48 hours before travel,” he said.
Since December 25 2020 when the second wave started to hit hard, Minister of Health Khumbize kandodo Chiponda has personally had about 18 engagement to do with Covid-19.
The total number of deaths since December 20, 2020 to February 4, 2021 has risen from 187 to 779.