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Kondwani Nankhumwa challenges Covid-19 measures

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Gospel Kazako

Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa has faulted the Covid-19 prevention measures which were recently gazetted by the government.

In a statement released Tuesday, Nankhumwa states that sticky issues which Malawians used to block the proposed 21-day lockdown during the Democratic Progressive Party administration earlier this year have not been addressed.

The issues, among others, according to Nankhumwa, are financial support to low-income earners during full or partial lockdowns.

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“The country erupted in arms against these measures, with opposition leaders then, Right Honourable Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima and Dr Lazarus Chakwera as well as [Human Rights Defenders Coalition] leading nation-wide demonstrations against the measures.

“Among the sticking points for the demonstrators that time was that Malawi is an informal economy with many people literally living from hand to mouth. Those against lockdown argued that government must first distribute money or other life essentials to the underprivileged and most vulnerable families in order to cushion against the effects of the lockdown and cover up for the lost time that people would spend staying in their homes as a result of the lockdown,” reads the statement in part.

Nankhumwa then describes the measures as hypocritical, saying that the Tonse Alliance government leadership championed the protests against their lockdown.

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“President Chakwera and Vice President, Dr Chilima are the same people who vehemently opposed these similar measures they are imposing on the people today based only on political expediency. The new Tonse Alliance government has just imposed a partial lockdown, which is not substantially different from what the DPP imposed on the country in April this year, just five months ago.

“This time, there is mandatory wearing of face masks in public and a fine of K10,000 for not doing so. Church gatherings of more than 10 people have been banned and funerals should not gather more than 50 people with fines going up to K100,000 for non-compliance,” the statement adds.

But government spokesperson Gospel Kazako accused Nankhumwa of trying to politicise the pandemic.

“Are you sure the statement is coming from Honourable Nankhumwa? This is surprising because as a Leader of Opposition he is part of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid–19. He sits in that meeting and one would think that if he has suggestions on how to deal with the virus, he brings them in that committee,” Kazako said.

He then said government will be engaging religious leaders on the concerns they have raised regarding the gazetted Covid-19 prevention measures.

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