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Selfishness will get us all killed

Puludzu

The situation is very dire and President Lazarus Chakwera did not paint it any less when he expressed concern the other day over the rate at which Covid-19 is killing people in the country, with over 170 patients succumbing to the scourge in the past 15 days.

And this is double the number of patients who died in the country the previous week, when 80 people did not make it through after contracting coronavirus.

This is quite scary as, clearly, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel as figures that members of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 keep rattling everyday are still high, sending fear and hopelessness to citizens.

You would think their admonishment on the dangerous virus would send us all scampering for safety for our dear lives and strictly follow the advice they are giving us as well as comply with the measures they have put in place but it seems it is all in vain and mostly falling on deaf ears.

Let us take funerals, for example.

Experts such as Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 co-Chairperson John Phuka are emphatic that burying loved ones in big groups is aiding the spread of coronavirus, urging people to exercise extra care at funerals, implying that this culture must change somehow.

Then there is the maximum number of people attending public gatherings, which has been reduced from 100 to 50, and the murmurings against it are audible for all to hear.

But maybe these two issues of culture pale significantly when seen against the act of minibus drivers and owners, who were up in arms this week all over the country as they want to carry more passengers against expert advice that such a move of carrying more than two passengers per seat in such vehicles is a sure way of spreading the virus.

By now, there is no single Malawian who has not lost a family member, a friend or mere acquaintance to the disease and therefore in doubt of its ferociousness and efficacy in causing death.

With this simple fact, I would have expected that every Malawian would be frightened and allow the measures that the experts are putting in place after studying the science of the disease to be implemented fully.

But alas! That is not the case. Some minibus drivers want government to allow them to carry more passengers thereby making minibuses hotbeds for the spread of the disease.

The other condition they are using to hold government to ransom is that government should reduce the price of fuel if they are to carry two passengers per seat, which they pretty well know cannot happen as the dynamics of fuel procurement into the country are very precarious at the moment.

What I see here is greed and selfishness of some minibus operators to make money at the expense of sending innocent people to an early grave as their vehicles are turned into super spreaders of the deadly virus.

This is also the case with religious leaders, who keep on moaning about the low number of congregants that can attend their services because they want to make more money than that number can allow.

They are inviting death to their followers and to themselves.

Let us not cheat each other. None among us is immune to this deadly virus and the selfish religious leaders better get this into their incorrigible heads; otherwise, their selfishness will get us all killed.

The government, private citizens and our soldiers on the frontline—the healthcareworkers—are working day and night to win the war against Covid-19 and risking their own lives in the process.

It is ingratitude of the highest order for minibus operators and the rest of us not to heed their messages and advice and pretend all is well when it is not.

It is not even up to Police to shepherd us all into going home at 8pm or being told to wear a mask to avoid contracting the virus.

Unless one is on a suicide mission, this is something that one must do on their own.

It should not even be a case where the Police must use excessive force as President Chakwera noted the other day, insisting that there was a need to properly handle people found not wearing face masks.

Certainly, our reformed Police have been caught on the wrong side of the law as they are being accused of harassing citizens without masks.

But the question will still remain as to why those citizens being allegedly harassed are not putting on a mask at this most dangerous time. Is it an attempt to murder others, because that is what it amounts to, in case they did not know about it?

Yes, questions can be raised about the training of the Police and the President can direct the Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda to work with the Inspector General George Kainja in ensuring that police officers are properly trained in the enforcement of the rules but the fact remains that some citizens are also on a deliberate suicide mission by not wearing masks when they are supposed to.

The Police DNA in this country is one of always using violence on citizens when enforcing laws and regulations that they must be told, as the President did, that Malawi is not a Police State but I dare question again: Why did those unfortunate citizens allow themselves to be harassed by not wearing the masks?

In the final analysis, this disease should offer us, citizens, an opportunity to take responsibility of our lives for once, instead of behaving like spoilt children, insisting on things that can kill us simply because we have a right to do so.

The only problem is that, before we kill ourselves, we would have killed others.

The over 170 Malawians that have perished—may their souls

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