Death, they say, comes when we least expect it. When we are in our comfort zones; when we feel it’s time to party and make merry; when we feel we have won the battle, at that particular time, death knocks at the door. And without waiting for our reply, death comes in to pounce on us. Indeed, death is unpredictable.
Much as multitudes agree about the unpredictability of death, many too subscribe to the view that death is foreseen at times. Yes, sometimes death can be predicted. And predicted very correctly too.
Our elders often times tell us about this. They say death is synonymous with deafness. They say when one’s days are numbered on planet earth, one loses the sense of hearing. Our elders are right. We don’t argue with them. It’s a taboo to argue with our elders. They are right. Always.
There are many that we know who died having shown signs they would soon kick the bucket. There are many. And it is sad that soon, very soon indeed we shall add one more to this list as a country. The new entrant on this list is Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika. Many have advised Mutharika. Many have warned him. Parliament has added its weight. Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima also has been warning him for a million times. But all this has been falling on Mutharika’s deaf ears. Yes, Mutharika is simply destined to die soon.
In the present moment, the old man Mutharika must be smelling his own death in his nostrils. In his ears he must be hearing dirges, lamenting and mourning his passing on. And he must be seeing people dressed in blue, taking him to his final resting place.
APM or Adadi as he is fondly called, is getting closer and closer to his death. Indeed, Adadi is feeling and smelling his death. Soon and very soon indeed, condolences will start pouring in for the loss of APM. Soon and very soon indeed, all those who pride in calling themselves “Ana a Adadi” shall be in tears. I guess orphanages will mushroom soon in the country.
What will kill APM is not old age. It is not that disease which nearly took his life in 2016 when he had overstayed in United States lying that he was attending some important meetings when in fact he was hospitalized. What will kill APM is the novel corona virus disease also known as Covid-19. It is now dawning on us Malawians that this pandemic has come here in Malawi solely to finish off Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.
The Covid-19 pandemic was first identified in December 2019, in Wuhan, China. It has since spread globally killing close to 150, 000 people worldwide. In Africa, the pandemic has claimed slightly over 900 lives. And in Malawi, only two have died due to this pandemic.
The measures put in place by Mutharika in order to contain this pandemic, leave a lot to be desired. Malawians, Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima inclusive, have voiced out their concerns on Mutharika’s reaction to Covid-19 but all the concerns have landed on deaf ears. Poor Peter, you’re sure to die.
And so, after ignoring all the advice from all and sundry, on 20th March, 2020, Mutharika declared Malawi a State of Disaster over the Covid-19 pandemic. This was Mutharika’s mistake number one in this string of mistakes that will surely take his life.
Without any consultation with stakeholders on the ground, Mutharika ordered closure of all public and private schools, colleges and universities by Monday, 23rd March, 2020. At this time, secondary schools had only two weeks to the end of the term. Mind you, at this time, Malawi was yet to register any case of Covid-19. And yet our old man had the audacity to declare a State of Disaster and order closure of schools with no consultation whatsoever. Poor old Peter, you’re sure to die.
Later, Mutharika came up with what he called Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 as he had promised when making the State of Disaster declaration. All of the members of this committee are his cronies from DPP.
The committee is led by Jappie Mhango who, by the virtue of being Minister of Health, chairs it. There is no medical personnel in this committee. That’s the laughable choice of Mutharika.
You see, one problem with Mutharika is that he makes decisions as if he is some headless pig. Many of his measures are very questionable. Many of the measures he has put in place for example, are copy and paste. He is so daft that he has copied measures that are seen to be working in China, USA, UK, Italy and Germany. And he is pasting them here believing they will work in a similar way. Poor old Peter, you’re sure to die.
Mutharika has to understand that much as it is true that this pandemic is a global problem, the measures to containing it cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Infectious diseases like Covid-19 unfold differently in different communities. And though the transmission mechanism is one and the same thing, the spread and pattern of spread cannot be the same.
There is no denying that Covid-19 is a global crisis, but the pandemic is now in Africa, in Malawi.
And it has to be treated as such. At this time, in order to contain this pandemic, Africa must find African solutions; and yes, Malawi must find Malawian solutions. Not these European or Chinese or American solutions Mutharika is copying and pasting.
As a country, we need to seriously know ourselves. We need some serious soul searching. Who are we? What kind of population do we have? Are we like Italy? Are we like the Chinese? Do we have some similarities with European states? These are but some of the questions Mutharika needed to answer before coming up with his good for nothing measures.
As of now, Mutharika’s committee on Covid-19 has come up with measures that are as useless as the entire committee itself. A closer look at most of these measures makes one see glaring gaps in our preparedness as earlier pointed out by Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima some days ago. This is a clear indication that there are no consultations in as far as coming up with these measures is concerned.
Take for example the lockdown measure which was expected to be effected on Saturday, 18th April, 2020. Did the committee try to have proper discussions and consultations with market authorities, traders, customers, local chiefs and the poor masses at large? These are very important people who know what works and what doesn’t in their communities. It is only when people like these are fully involved in planning and implementing that a positive outcome can be achieved.
In Liberia for example, a lockdown was not successful to contain the Ebola outbreak in 2014. However, when the government started consulting community leaders to design and enforce their own control measures, things worked out so well.
According to Mutharika’s committee, the lockdown is to have all central markets closed with only local markets opened from 6 AM to 2 PM. Measures like these create more questions than answers. It is very known that the closure of central markets will come with two negatives: one, an interruption or a cut of supply of goods to the local markets, and two, congestion in the local markets. These will, in the end, hit hard on the poor man on the ground in terms of the spread of the virus.
The committee further claims that it plans to give out money to those in the informal sector as a cushion to the pangs of lockdown. How this will be down only the committee and Mutharika know. The fear however is that this will be highly politicised bearing in mind that Mutharika and his DPP are double desperate to win the forthcoming fresh presidential elections.
Nevertheless, the lockdown measure is a good measure. It is working in China. It is fairing considerably well in Europe. But to think that it will also work here in Malawi, a poorest nation on earth, is laughable.
As a poor nation, Malawi has citizens who believe in the “give us today our daily bread” philosophy. There is unemployment in Malawi. There is poverty in Malawi, abject poverty. Can a lockdown work in a country like Malawi? Mutharika knows it can’t work.
But because the old man is arrogant and cares less about the welfare of the poor masses, he will insist on having it. He will not listen to any advice. He will be deaf to cries and petitions. Demonstrations and injunctions will not move him. He will not listen. He will not. And then, that is why he will die. Yes, few days from now Mutharika will die of Covid-19. Poor old Peter, this coming July you are surely dying. Your ill-fated presidency will come to an end.