Malawi govt pins Covid-19 fight on Strive Masiywa

Lazarus Chakwera has been sworn in as Malawi’s new president

LILONGWE, Malawi – As Malawi grapples with Covid-19 with virus cases continue to spike, President Lazarus Chakwera has said he is talking to UK-based Zimbabwean billionaire businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa, who has promised to provide ventilators and investment.

Chakwera disclosed this in quotes reported by The Guardian newspaper of UK.

“This is a serious challenge,” Chakwera said, one that he is quick to point out could affect his ability to keep his promises in the short term.

Zimbabwean Masiyiwa, the founder of Econet Wireless, said he is interested to work and help Chakwera administration as he used to during the reign of Joyce Banda.

“I have a long history with Malawi and its a country I enjoy visiting,” said Masiyiwa.

He added,”Under the leadership of Joyce Banda (who I call big sister) I used to ‘drop in’ unannouced with friends. I once went with Bill and Chelsea Clinton, and we had a beautiful time.”

Masiyiwa said he is going to work very hard for Malawi again, “and I will once again begin to ‘drop in’ and send investors to the country, real investors.”

Ministry of Health chief of health services Charles Mwansambo said major hospitals are facing soaring demand of oxygen supplie, saying Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) consumption is way above normal where “one person is using three cylinders a day each costing K152 000 a month.”

Meanwhile, governance analyst Makhumbo Munthali has told Nyasa Times that with the rising confirmed cases of Covid-19 and deaths, it’s critical that the Tonse Alliance-led government must demonstrate “decisive leadership” to combat the pandemic.

“The current state of laxity remains a great concern. Government must not only act on Covid-19 but also be seen to be acting on the same,” said Munthali.

He continued: “Truth be told, there’s is no excuse to justify government’s failure to act decisively on Covid-19 especially mindful of the fact we passed the elections.

“Besides, the issue of lack of trust in the previous regime which undermined efforts to fight pandemic is now history following the election of new government with a more increased legitimacy command. It is in such a context that the Tonse Alliance government can utilize this increased legitimacy to lead in the fight against Covid-19.”

Ministry of Health’s Kuunika Team projected that without interventions, Malawi would register as many as 16 million infections and 50 000 Covid-19 deaths.

The concerned citizens, that included bottle store owners, Prophet David Mbewe and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), challenged Covid-19 measures restrictions the immediate past president Peter Mutharika issued including a lockdown.

A judicial review process on lockdown was then certified as a constitutional matter by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda.

In their submission to the court dated July 20 2020, Society of Medical Doctors (SMD) argued that coronavirus prevention measures such as lockdown are not appropriate because they could impinge on people’s livelihood on access to food and health care.

The medical doctors, with specific reference to lockdown, acknowledged the potential utility of such a measure to curb the spread of the contagium, but cast doubt on effective implementation of the measure.