Politicians’ hypocrisy puts millions of lives in peril


By Yohane Simon

In the past 12 months, politicians have shown they can sacrifice millions of lives to serve their individual interests.

In terms of Covid-19 restrictions, they have not been equal to all other Malawians.


In April 2020, former president Peter Mutharika announced a raft of restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among Malawians.

Mobile markets were barred. Companies started implementing work shifts to decongest offices. Schools were suspended.

Meetings were restricted. But mass political rallies in readiness for the fresh presidential elections on June 23 rolled on in business-as-usual style. Mutharika himself found himself in a difficult spot.


He did not hold rallies until late. He told the media that he was conflicted as he did not want to violate the very restrictions he had put in place. But the pull of the vote took him out of State House and he held a few public rallies.

It was like the virus only spreads in other gatherings but not political rallies.

So selfish have been politicians on Covid-19 that former president Joyce Banda and vice president Saulos Chilima even dared to say at campaign rallies that Covid-19 was a hoax in Malawi.

They said the Mutharika government was making it up to stop the fresh presidential elections. Within two months of President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration, government gazetted new regulations. But there were also byelections in December 2020.

And politicians ignored the restrictions and held mass rallies. In January 2021, the second wave hit Malawi and became the most devastating, killing over 200 people within the first two months.

Experts attributed this tragedy to the recklessness of politicians during the elections. As the second wave laid siege, government went hard in enforcing the restrictions. Police beat up people, closed bars, arrested those breaching the restrictions and cracked down on minibus passenger capacity.

However, politicians have continued to refuse to be bound by the restrictions.

Ahead of the just ended by-elections held on March 30, political parties campaigned freely while police officers were busy beating and arresting people who are not wearing face masks in public in other corners of the country.

And on Thursday April 1, two days after polling, government now remembered that Covid-19 is still a threat. It released a memo advising councils and police officers to be strict in enforcing the Covid-19 regulations during the Easter holidays.

Commentators say politicians have been hypocritical and selfish in the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Church and Society Programs Manager Moses Mkandawire said government is not being just to Malawians by imposing restrictions which politicians are not willing to respect.

“We saw how parties campaigned in November last year for the by-elections. All that was happening while the country was under Covid-19 restrictions. In a larger part we can say without fear that politicians contributed to the escalating cases of Covid-19 during the second wave,” Mkandawire said.

Governance and Civic Education commentator at National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Turner Banda feared that the recent political rallies might trigger a new wave in the immediate future.

He said locking down other sectors while allowing political rallies to continue at will is a two-faced approach which cannot help contain the virus.

“Already people are being resistant to some measures because they have seen politicians, including cabinet ministers, addressing hundreds of people. So government officials need to be exemplary in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic,” Banda said.

Sadly, Banda observed, it is the poor people who are bearing the suffering of the careless behavior by politicians.

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