'We cannot afford to entertain political rhetoric and finger-pointing'

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera

President Lazarus Chakwera has said the country cannot afford to entertain political rhetoric and finger-pointing which add no value to what the prevailing situation is demanding from all citizens.

Malawi is reeling from the effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy which has left over 500 dead, half a million people displaced following the washing away of over 100,000 homes; and in some cases, entire villages.

Addressing the National Assembly, he described the destruction caused by Freddy as not an average or temporary challenge thus citizens cannot afford to engage in behaviours or actions that hinder the nation from doing the needful.

“In this dark hour, we cannot afford to entertain political rhetoric and finger-pointing that sends us down the useless rabbit trails of unhelpful petty interests, interests that add no value to what this moment demands from all of us.

“The only questions that matter in this moment are what has this cyclone done to our country and people?” and what must we each do to meet the challenge until we rise from this calamity?”

First Deputy speaker Madalitso Kazombo welcomes President Chakwera on arrival at Parliament

He stressed that the rebuilding process is for everyone and called on all Malawians to put aside politics and join hands to help survivors reclaim what they have lost.

He called on people to support those in the frontline citing the soldiers, police, public officials and those from the international community who have come to assist.

“Now is not the time to discourage them by finding faults with them, but to stand by them and show them that we are capable of being one nation in the spirit of Tigwirane Manja’."

The President acknowledged the humanitarian needs of the aftermath of the Cyclone is beyond Malawi’s capacity to address without support, which has seen authorities aggressively seeking the intervention of development partners and international aid agencies.

Chakwera said government is also leveraging all the support it is receiving to supply those camps that are within reach with the humanitarian relief items in meeting the people’s need for shelter, protection, healthcare, utensils and food security.

The house observes a minute of silence for Cyclone Freddy victims and casualties. Pics by MANA.

He however indicated the supplies being deployed are far from enough for the magnitude of the need, and in some cases where supplies are available; it has been difficult to reach some areas due to damaged roads which have been rendered impassable.

With an ongoing assessment of the damage caused to roads and other infrastructure, so far over 40 roads and bridges have been cut off, including several parts of the M1 Road.

He hailed the World Bank which has committed to work with Malawi in the completion of the assessment and the resource mobilization for the reconstruction plan which will be brought to Parliament once the damage assessment is done.

The President also disclosed that a Disaster prevention and management bill  will be tabled in the current sitting of Parliament which will among others regulate the relocation of people from disaster prone areas.

He confessed the country has never witnessed this kind of solidarity before and called on the need to work together with all the help that is coming and utilize it for the welfare of those affected.