Coronavirus Updates: May Presidential Polls in limbo: Malawi bans public gatherings

Police ordered to arrest anyone who violates the directive

There is uncertainty surrounding the forthcoming 19 May 2020 Presidential Elections after Malawi President Peter Mutharika declared a Stare of National Disaster due to the threat of the Coronavirus.

President Mutharika said the country has now banned public gatherings of more than 100 people and that the Malawi police have been ordered to act against any violations.

“Government is restricting public gatherings to less than 100 people forthwith. This restriction applies to all gatherings including weddings, funerals, church, congregations,rallies, government meetings etc; The national security apparatus has being ordered into action to enforce these restrictions” declared Mutharika.

The MCP and UTM electoral alliance is yet to issue a statement regarding Mutharika’s directive.

Malawi has not officially registered any Covid-19 case. However, cases have been diagnosed in neighboring Zambia and Tanzania.

Mutharika has also also issued a directive for all schools to close by Monday, 23rd March 2020.

Here is snippet of Mutharika’s statement.

My fellow Malawians,

At this juncture, I would like to assure the nation that the Malawi Government is doing everything possible to ensure that Coronavirus does not come into country.

Due to the threat of Corona Virus and the urgent need to seriously manage it, I have decided to declare ‘ State of Disaster’ in the country. Consequently, Government is putting the following measures;

1. Ministry of Health and Population is redeploying health personnel in all border posts and continue screening and surveillance of people in all entry points;

2. Government has suspended hosting of international meetings and banned public servants from attending both regional and international meetings being hosted by affected countries. The ban has been extended to all people travelling on other government related activities such as sports;

3. My Government is advising the general public to avoid non-essential travel to the affected countries;

4. My Government has directed that all schools, colleges (including technical colleges), both public and private universities should be closed by Monday , 23rd March, 2020;

5. My Government is restricting public gatherings to less than 100 people forthwith. This restriction applies to all gatherings including weddings, funerals, church, congregations,rallies, government meetings etc; The national security apparatus has being ordered into action to enforce these restrictions.

6. My Government has banned travel of foreign nationals from countries highly affected by coronavirus disease. However, SADC countries are exempted. Returning residents and nationals from coronavirus affected countries will be subjected to self or institutional quarantine;

7. Government will continue to monitor and review the situation and the restrictions from time to time within the next 30 days;

8. My Government has temporarily suspended issuance of visa to citizens of countries highly affected by coronavirus;

9. My Government will continue to provide updates on the disease and the restrictions imposed.

My government is aware that some of the interventions being implemented have a negative bearing on people’s right to enjoy some of their human rights enshrined in our Constitution such as the right to assemble, the right to movement, and the right to participate in economic activities.

My government is hoping that in pursuance of the greater national good, we will be able to reasonably limit such rights within what is attainable in our Constitutional framework.

It is my sincere hope that my colleagues on the political divide will tame their appetite to politicize the fight against Corona Virus. I have noted some unfortunate remarks from some political leaders on the fight against Corona virus. I hope it was just a temporary error of judgment. Corona Virus is not a joking matter.

The Corona virus threat demands that we all join hands and pull in one direction for us to win. Lets not politicize it.

Let me also speak to individuals that are using the Corona virus threat and the social media for political reasons and to express their personal hate. Stop creating panic. Stop spreading rumors on the virus. Your actions are frustrating the fight against the Corona Virus. Love your county. Be humane.

Spiritually, I call upon all Malawians of different denominations and faiths to turn to God in times of fear and uncertainty as we do in times of joy and celebration.

Let’s join together as we pray for God’s heart of love, mercy, and truth to dwell in us and show us how to face the challenges posed by coronavirus.

Let’s find comfort in God’s word from 2 Chronicles 7:14… and it reads…. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land’’.

We should not panic. Let us all unite in Prayer of faith to a God that answers prayer. With spiritual grace and scientific resilience, together, we shall overcome this epidemic.

In conclusion, Malawi realizes that we are in a global world where the impact of coronavirus can spill-over within the region and beyond.

Therefore, I would like to reiterate my appeal to the private sector, development partners and you my fellow citizens for more support towards the fight against coronavirus and its impact on the economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you

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