Blame game over who is politicising COVID-19

Botomani addressing journalist in Blantyre on Coronavirus Picture by Pemphero Musowa

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government has accused Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party of politicising the coronavirus and trying to risk  people's lives by organising sensitisation meetings on the coronavirus which causes a disease called COVID-19.

Mark Botomani Minister of Information said in a statement: “The UTM, MCP and indeed any other political party, must never use coronavirus for political gains. People's lives are at risk and, for once, let parties leave politics aside and think Malawi first."

Botomani called the MCP and UTM ‘unqualified personnel’ who should leave the work to professionals.

Malunga at NECOF in Blantyre
UTM's Chidanti Malunga threw back shade at government-Picture by Pemphero Musowa

But responding to the claims UTM's Chidanti Malunga threw-back the shade at government saying they can not politicise the virus because they know this is a global pandemic.

Malunga said: "We have to comply with what our colleagues are doing especially the World Health Organisation restrictions in terms of people gathering the number that is being mentioned, as a country we have our measures we should follow and we will follow as a party probably what we do not want is this issue to be politicised.

"As we speak there is a statement I think its coming from Honourable Botomani to say that they are actually quashing our awareness campaigns because we wanted to go about and let Malawians know the dangers of this virus in the communities but they have issued a statement to say we can not do that, this is what we call politics.

"We can not accept politicizing this, if we say we should not do meetings fine; we are going to adhere to that because it is a global pandemic but going beyond and politicizing this issue then it is unfortunate," Malunga retaliated.

Botomani said MCP and UTM should cancel their coronavirus sensitisation tours and allow the Ministry of Health officials to take the lead.

He pointed out that a Ministerial Committee chaired by the Ministry of Health has been orienting health workers and journalists in the management of COVID-19 to ensure effective preventive and treatment strategies are developed and disseminated.

Ministerial committee on Coronavirus giving the nation its update in Blantyre. Picture by Pemphero Musowa

This week, there is an orientation of traditional leaders, district commissioners and district health officers in the management of COVID-19 organised in conjunction with UNICEF.

“It is inappropriate, therefore, for groups such as UTM and MCP to involve themselves in coronavirus message development and dissemination without any orientation by the Ministry of Health,” Botomani said.

He added that incorrect information is a setback to the fight against coronavirus. In addition, even correct information developed and disseminated wrongly, is a danger as well.

There have been questions as to why political parties are failing to address the coronavirus by sharing alcohol-based hand sanitisers, masks where as they are always ready to distribute party regalia.