Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has sparked backlash following its directive requiring MEC workers to first get vaccinated before physically reporting to work.
On Monday, the commission said that only staff that have received the Covid-19 vaccination should be reporting to the offices while all non-vaccinated staff will be working from home until they can access the vaccine.
MEC Acting Chief Elections Officer Harris Potani said the decision has been made in the best interest of the staff, considering the prevailing cases of Covid-19 at the MEC secretariat.
“Information from the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) mentions that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing Covid-19 disease, especially severe illness and death and also reduce the risk of people spreading the Coronavirus,” said Potani.
He then assured all stakeholders that this will not affect the operations of the Commission which include the holding of by-elections in two constituencies that are vacant and the rollout of the constituency and ward boundary review exercise.
However, Malawians have criticized MEC over the decision, saying it is not compulsory for a person to receive the vaccine hence people who refuse to be vaccinated should not be discriminated against.
Kenneth Xavier Hunter said: “We all have freedom of Choice not that nonsense, everyone has a right to accept or refuse to take the vaccine. Government must stop threatening people.”
Social media user Alfred Manjawira argued that the government has never forced people to receive agricultural inputs or Covid-19 relief and it is insane to now force people to get the vaccine.
“No institution/employer whether of Law or whatever must dictate what employees should consume. What goes into my body is entirely my responsibility.
“If you think you cannot associate with those not jabbed then you should be the one working from home or quit working altogether.
“Your choice to consume any vaccine should not be a super choice to be forced upon those not jabbed. Government is clear on this, “Vaccine is not mandatory”,” Manjawira wrote.
While Joseph Herbert Ulemu said: “That’s total madness if you think we’ll pat you on the shoulder for your nonsensical directive. It was government through Ministry of Health which announced Covid-19 vaccination would not be mandatory as is the case, and now you’re talking like you’re in a slumber. You should have found something else to say not about such imposition. Unless you mean working from home by “stay home”, You’re getting on our nerves.”
Some Malawians also argued that MEC should just encourage its workers to get vaccinated in a way that respect the workers’ rights. Others said it is too early to start forcing people to get vaccinated since Malawi has a shortage of vaccines.
Malawi has administered 595,535 jabs since vaccination exercise started in Malawi. The country is currently facing a shortage of vaccines with about 1200 people vaccinated over the past 24 hours.
The Ministry of Health said over the weekend that it expects to receive more vaccine doses this month.