A High Court in Malawi, on Friday, temporarily barred the government from implementing a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus following a petition by a human rights group.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition argued that the government had failed to announce any measures to cushion the poor during the lockdown.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa, and more than half of its population live below the poverty threshold.
On Tuesday, President Peter Mutharika announced a 21-day lockdown which was meant to begin on Saturday, April 18, 2029, in a bid to contain the spread of the virus which has infected 17 persons with two deaths in the country.
While addressing the citizens, Mutharika warned that up to 50,000 Malawians could lose their lives to the Covid-19 virus if it doesn’t act with haste and slow the spread of the disease.
The president did not outline any relief package for the vulnerable during the lockdown, which prompted a civil society group to seek a stop order from the court.
“Our message is simple, we are not accepting this issue of lockdown unless government comes up with proper measures to protect the lives of Malawians, all we are saying is that different stakeholders such as religious leaders, civil society organizations should come together to digest this issue and come up with a proper solution,” said Gift Trapence, the chairperson for Human Rights Defenders Coalition.
Following Malawi government’s failure to put in place any measure to cushion the poor during the lockdown, thousands of angry traders in the cities of Mzuzu and Blantyre took it to the streets to protest against a coronavirus lockdown with placards that read “Lockdown more poisonous than Corona” and another “We’d rather die of corona than die of hunger.”
They have vowed to disregard the shutdown, saying it will devastate workers who live hand-to-mouth.
Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda, on Friday, set aside the lockdown in response to a challenge by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), which argued that more consultation was needed to prevent harm to the poorest and most vulnerable of society.
Meanwhile, the Namibian Government has reportedly begun the transfer of money into its citizens bank accounts to ease the effect of coronavirus lockdown in the country