Coronavirus: President Mutharika Announces Cushioning Measures

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President Peter Mutharika has issued a raft of new measures in response to a fourth confirmed case of the Corona virus in Malawi. 

These include smaller numbers of workers, in shifts, in the public and private sectors, an immediate suspension of gatherings and conferences and for workers with underlying medical conditions to work from or stay at home. 

The government is to also take measures to protect businesses to ensure the survival of the economy. 

Mutharika’s announcement fell short of a lockdown, something that Malawi’s neighbouring countries, including South Africa which is its biggest trading partner, have done.

The measures should however please the country’s co-operation partners as well as opposition political groupings who had warned on Capital FM that a shutdown would have disastrous consequences in Malawi, which remains one of the poorest and most densely populated states on the African continent.

The country’s political scene is also marked by tension in the wake of violent demonstrations that have been led by human rights protestors and following the successful legal challenge by the leading opposition groupings of the Malawi Congress Party, MCP and the UTM to the results of the presidential elections of last May.

In an apparent reference to this, Mutharika in a recorded speech over state-owned MBC television, said in his words: “either we unite and fight the Corona virus disease, or we perish”.  

The President however, also fell short of responding to widespread calls on social media platforms by Malawians, for improvements in the country's hospitals which lie in sorry states, or for improved supplies of medicines and equipment that would be needed in a likely increase of new cases.

“I am also directing the Ministry of Health to recruit 2,000 health workers to assist in the fight of the pandemic. We need more soldiers and human power in this fight,” the President announced.

Other measures that the President announced include measures to protect private sector businesses, as he put it, to ensure the survival of the economy.  

These include new tax incentives  which are also aimed at cushioning the private sector during this period.

“I have discussed with SADC, COMESA and other regional trade blocks as well as neighbouring countries to ensure smooth transportation and importation of essential goods and raw materials into Malawi,” he disclosed.

Mutharika has warned of unspecified measures against anyone who tried to take advantage of the suffering of Malawians, by increasing the price of goods.

  

 

 

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