Balaka DHO warns journalists of COVID-19 during campaign rallies

By Andrew Mukhuwa, MEC Stringer

Balaka District Office (DHO) has advised journalists to conduct themselves with utmost care as they discharge their duties during the fresh presidential election campaign going on in the country in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DHO’s Community Health Coordinator, John Chiwaya said this on Tuesday at Balaka Stadium after a review meeting organised to update the media of how the district has fared since activities in response to COVID- 19 threat.

Journalists attending meeting at Balaka Stadium

“We understand that you journalists have a bigger role to play in informing the masses on what the presidential candidates are promising the electorate, but at the same time you are supposed to make personal decision that will prevent you from contracting or transmitting of the virus,” Mawaya said.

He added that by observing social distance, journalists will protect communities they are working in as well as themselves and the people they interact with in their day to day activities.

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He also asked political party followers to make decisions that may not put them at risk of contracting the virus by initiating campaign messages through radios and TVs or observing social distance at campaign rallies.

Balaka’s District Information Officer Mary Makhiringa commended the DHO for the initiative, saying to make the district COVID-19 free there is need for deliberate efforts for players to coordinate with the media.

“If the communities are misinformed, it is because the media has not played its role to inform and disseminate relevant messages,” Makhiringa said. “Therefore, by engaging the media, it is a right step to win the fight against the virus.”

Coronavirus alert

Among other activities, the DHO has trained health workers, community and faith leaders and distributed personal protection equipment to communities.

Meanwhile, Mzuzu City Council spokesperson, Mcdonald Gondwe says politics has overshadowed the Council’s implementation of COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines which include observance of social distancing.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Wednesday, Gondwe said party political campaigns ahead of the presidential election this year, has diluted adherence to some of the COVID-19 prevention measures.

Tonse Alliance political rally

“There was compliance on social distancing in the early days of implementation of the measures, however, with the reactivation of the political mood, it’s now a challenge,” he said.

He hinted that this has made it harder to enforce other measures such as closure of bars, as people are making reference to political rallies.

DPP/UDF Alliance rally

The city’s publicist said people ought to know that COVID-19 is real and can be contained through adherence to prevention measures as set by health experts.

“As a Council, we urge organisers of these rallies to apply preventive measures as it is for their own good,” he said. 

One of the people who patronised a political rally recently, Francis Chirwa said he knows COVID-19 is real but said he could not hold himself from attending a political rally.

Coronavirus alert from Winnie Nyondo

“It’s true that in large gatherings Coronavirus can be easily spread, but we need to be there to listen to our leaders, hence taking the risk,” he said.

In reaction to political parties conduct, musicians in the country have announced they will start conducting live shows, arguing that is where they earn their butter and bread.

During official campaign launch, Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson, Jane Ansah advised political parties to come up with innovative ways of campaigning in the observance of the social distancing measures.—Additional reporting by Easter Khunga, MANA