Strategy meeting for the 2025 elections by Malawi Congress party (MCP) gurus in December 2020 at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe may have contributed to the Covid-19 attack on some cabinet members who lost two of their colleagues on Tuesday.
Transport Minister Sidik Mia and Local Government Minister Lingson Berekanyama both succumbed to the disease in the early hours of Tuesday.
They were senior members of MCP, the main partner in Tonse alliance that unseated immediate past president Peter Mutharika in a cour-sanction fresh election in June last year, delivering victory to President Lazarus Chakwera.
Insiders at Kamuzu Palace said ministers especially those from the MCP in the Tonse Alliance government had been holding meetings at Kamuzu Palace together with some MCP gurus to strategize on the 2025 elections and the virus may have attacked the members during this time.
“This should be around 21 December or thereabout but before Christmas when these people had meetings and parties here and remember everyone that time had relaxed as we thought Covid-19 was gone. This is the time many were infected,” revealed an impeccable source at the palace.
Colloborated another source: “They were discussing what they will do in 2025 after President Lazarus Chakwera indicated that he will not have another go at the presidency and that is why most of the meeting the President was not in attendance and left them to discuss freely.”
Mia, who was MCP deputy president, had been tipped as a possible successor to Chakwera.
The first one to fall prey of the Covid-19 was Labour Minister Ken Kandodo who fortunately recovered from the pandemic and was followed by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Madalitso Kazombo who is making steady progress of recovery.
These two were said to have been part of the MCP 2025 strategy meetings at Kamuzu Palace.
The others who are said to have attended the meetings and have since passed on Tuesday included Ms. Norah Soko, an MCP political strategist from Kasungu.
The other MCP gurus who attended the meetings include cabinet ministers Richard Chimwendo Banda, Eisenhower Mkaka, Abida Mia, Robin Lowe, Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda and MCP officials Sam Kawale and MCP administrative secretary Wickford Sulamoyo.
Minister of Industry Roy Kachale, a son of former president Joyce Banda, also disclosed he tested positive Covid-19 and was steadily recovering in self-isolation.
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Chakwera has blamed the spike on decreased vigilance during the festive season.
On Tuesday, the President summoned an emergency meeting of the Presidential task force on Covid-19 to issue potential new measures and hinted on possibility of declaring a ‘State of Emergency’ where the military will enforce curfew after he had already declared a state of national disaster.
“This declaration of the national state of the disaster is but the first step towards the possible declaration of the state of emergency, subject to consultation with and approval from the defense and security committee of the national assembly as stipulated in section 45 of the constitution,” Chakwera said.
Malawi is facing a resurgence in coronavirus cases, with about 30 percent of confirmed infections registered in the past two weeks alone.
“We must all rise together and do what the health experts tells us to do,” Chakwara said in his speech, urging Malawians not to lose hope.
The President encouraged Malawians to police one another in observing Covid-19 preventive measures, which include washing hands with soap, observing social distance recommendations and putting on face coverings.
“We are fighting for our very lives and our future,” he said.
Malawi’s government was barred from implementing a lockdown last year after a High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ruled the restrictions would unfairly impact the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.