ColumnsHitting The Nail

The social welfare is sleeping on the job


If foolish parents can take their underage children up to some mountain for a week for a religious fast and in the course the kids lose their lives due to hunger and dehydration, I dare say we do not need the Social Welfare Department under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare.

The department is simply sleeping on the job.

In case you missed it, dear readers, two children from Chibadwa Village, TA Makhuwira in Chikwawa lost their lives this week because their parents who belong to the Apostolic Church took them for fasting and since they were kids whose bodies could not withstand the rigors of lack of nourishment, they died.


Another girl and two boys are admitted to the hospital and are in critical condition.

Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but it does not make the same premium on religious foolishness that endangers the life of others especially children.

The story of religious fundamentalism and terrorism in the Apostolic Church, which does not allow its members to go to the hospital when afflicted with any disease, has been with us for ages.


The media has highlighted the issue and have led the Ministry of Health officials to villages in some parts of the country where this madness manifests itself through pregnant women being refused to give birth in hospitals in the name of religious freedom thereby endangering their lives, among other evils.

The funny part is the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare has taken no tangible action but preferred instead to engage in empty rhetoric through verbal condemnation of this senseless act.

But this needs more than words of condemnation. Children are not capable of making decisions on their own. They rely on adults.

For all I care, those two kids who died in Chikwawa did not have the ability to make the fatal decision to fast on top of a mountain as a form of prayer.

They did not make the decision to join this church. It was the adults that decided for them.

These are adults that have formed dangerous beliefs that have proven fatal to the children.

Because of such beliefs such parents have lost the right to look after children. In such circumstances, the State intervenes to protect children born to such parents who clearly have no ability to look after any kid.

In many advanced countries, children would be taken away from such mad parents to safeguard their interests and safety. Welfare inspectors visit homes where the kids are physically checked to see any signs of abuse and in an event of any such the kids are taken away and the parents face the wrath and fury of the law.

In Malawi I hear we have welfare officers in all districts and they are on the salary paid by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare. The Ministry is headed by Mrs Patricia Kaliati with her countless band of officials.

The question I have for them is simple: Do we need social welfare officers if they cannot do even the basic minimum of taking away kids from parents who seem not to deserve them because of the funny beliefs that they hold in the name of religious freedom?

Parliament is meeting in Lilongwe and looking at the line up of bills being discussed, they are very distant to some of us.

The bills that matter to our lives such as Access to Information are being deliberately sidelined or adulterated because some people think they will upset authority.

Why not bring something about children and stop this madness of foolish parents killing children in broad daylight?

At the rate we are going, the Social Welfare Department has difficulties to justify its existence. Its officers are fast asleep on the job.

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