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Government has rebuked the attacks on health workers on false accusations regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, calling such acts criminal and regressive perpetuated by fake news and false conspiracy theories.

Speaking during the COVID-19 Daily Briefs on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Wednesday, Minister of Civic Education and National Unity,  Timothy Mtambo urged Malawians to follow the COVID-19 messages from government and health officials to avoid being moved by fake news.

“The tendency of attacking health workers is evil and criminal and this should stop. These people are there to help us. We need to listen to, and trust the messages that government is sending through various platforms and ignore the fake news,” Mtambo said.

Mtambo also urged Malawians to ignore the conspiracy theories that are spreading regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, saying they are false and without merit.

“The theories that the vaccines will, for example, make people infertile are false and you should not listen to them. Government has experts who are analysing every angle of the vaccine, suffice to say that we are also continuously learning from other countries, including South Africa” said the Minister.

Mtambo reiterated that government will not force anyone to take the vaccine, as such claims that government has ill-intentions are wrong.

On COVI-19 civic education and public awareness interventions, Mtambo said government through his Ministry has deployed 34 vehicles to all the 28 districts in Malawi to raise awareness on the preventative measures as well as the upcoming vaccines. The exercise, Mtambo said, commenced on 5 February and will run for 21 days.

“Our Ministry has mobilized district health workers and information officers, who are working with officials from the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) to conduct loud hailing campaigns, even in the hard to reach areas,” Mtambo said.

Mtambo's sentiments on COVID-19 vaccine echoed those made by Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda earlier this week when she called on  Malawians not to panicas the country, through its health experts, has made a thorough analysis of the vaccine.

“We have a special committee which evaluates vaccines in the country and that committee has recommended  the AstraZeneca vaccine for the country,” Said Chiponda.

In his remarks at the same platform, co-chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka called upon traditional leaders to help government in promoting behaviour change amongst the citizen, in order to adopt new ways of life that will help prevent the spread of the pandemic and allow the health workers to work freely.

“Chiefs and other traditional leaders need to help government in ensuring that people are following preventative measures in such events as funeral ceremonies. We need to change some of the behaviours that are helping in the spread of the pandemic,” said Phuka.

Phuka also gave the daily updates on Covid-19 update that of 10th February the country registered 328 new cases making a total confirmed cases to 28,050. The newly admitted were 31 while the new discharges from various health units is totalling to 24.

 

Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity, in conjunction with the ministries of Health and Information has rolled out loud hailing campaign to sensitize the general public on the prevention and containment of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

In its initial stages of the campaign before it rolled out to all the 28 districts, the Ministry target Lilongwe semi-rural and rural areas where 500,000 citizens reached with messages on Covid-19 prevention.

The countrywide loud hailing campaign will be implemented in collaboration with the Public Communication Cluster stakeholders from the Ministries of Health, Information, Local Government, Education and the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust.

Speaking as he appraised the nation on Covid-19 civic education and sensitization efforts at the Central Office of Information in Lilongwe, Civic Education and National Unity Minister, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo said this is one of the several initiatives the Ministry is undertaking following President Lazarus Chakwera’s declaration of State of Disaster due to Covid-19.

“As a Ministry, we are working in conjunction with various government departments, agencies and non-governmental organizations in civic educating Malawians on how best we can prevent and contain Covid-19 and cast out the misconception Malawians out there have regarding the pandemic,’ said Mtambo.

Mtambo added that the Ministry will also utilize social media as well as community and national radio stations in the dissemination of the messages that have been developed about the pandemic prevention.

 “The Ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders has developed Covid-19 messages that are currently being aired on various community and national radio stations throughout the country. We are also been using social media platforms to target the youth,” Mtambo said.

Mtambo added that the public sensitization initiatives are being implemented using the funds that President Chakwera allocated to the Public Communication Cluster to help spread messages about the pandemic. Commenting on the development, health expert Maziko Matemba welcome the initiatives, saying people in the communities need to be reached again in light of the second wave.

“This is a welcome development, especially for the rural communities as the messages that they have been receiving is different from those in the urban areas. As a matter of fact, the sensitization campaigns have to be supplemented by follow-up to assess if the right messages are indeed reaching the people,” Matemba said.

Matemba advised that the public sensitization messages should emphasize on the preventative measures that have been put in place, to ensure that people are still following them so as to curb the recent spike.

“I would advise that the interventions should involve community structures such as chiefs and Community-based Organizations. People have been hearing these messages and people will not trust them if they come from the same stakeholders,” said Matemba.

Malawi has in the past few weeks seen a proliferation of covid-19 cases, which prompted President Lazarus Chakwera to declare Malawi a State of Disaster on January 12, 2021. By Thursday, January 28, the country had registered a total of 13, 918 active cases, with 628 so far dead from the virus since April 2020.

The Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity has slammed perpetrators of those disseminating the myths that Covid-19 is not real and affects only the elderly and those residing in towns. The Ministry said these fallacies are only hampering government efforts to fight the pandemic for Covid-19 is circulating in the country and can affect anyone.

Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Honourable Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo made these remarks on during the weekly live briefs at the Central Office of information in which different government ministries, agencies and partners inform and update the nation on various interventions they are undertaking in the fight against Covid-19. “It is unfortunate and disheartening to note that there are some cruel Malawians who still spread fake news to make believe that Covid-19 is not real. “Others believe that the disease is for the rich and people who live in cities and towns. Again, this is not true.  Covid-19 can attack any other person, whether rich or poor; old or young; town dweller or villager. It has no boundaries. It attacks anyone regardless of status,” the Minister emphasized. 

Honorable Mtambo also reported that Ministry of Civic Education in partnership with Ministries of Health, Information and National Initiative for Civic Education conducted community awareness campaigns on Covid-19 preventive measures through laud hailing beginning with Lilongwe Urban and Rural. The also disclosed that the ministry mobilized vehicles from government ministries and departments through the office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) for the same purpose of conducting awareness campaigns.  

“The Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity is doing all it could, in collaboration with other partners to fight against the pandemic of Covid-19 through intensive information dissemination campaign beginning with Lilongwe rural and Urban,” he said. Similarly, he urged traditional leaders, religious leaders, and civic leaders to urge their subjects to observe the recommended covid-19 containment and preventive measures.

“Let me appeal to traditional, religious and civic leaders to encourage their subjects, members and communities to follow all the preventive measures. The fight against the pandemic is multi-sectoral. As such, let us all join hands to combat this deadly disease,” he appealed.

In his remarks, the chairperson of Covid-19 Taskforce, Dr. John Phuka commended the Ministry for such plans as most people in country needs to be reached with rightful messages for the country to win the battle as a lot of people are misled with fake news.

“Most people are now reluctant to come the hospital because they were misinformed that at hospitals we do not have enough bed space and once they come they will be diagnosed with Covid-19. All these are misinformation, that needs civic education agencies to assist in parrying off such misconceptions and myths,” said Phuka.

The Public Communication Cluster introduced the dairy briefs through television and radio which serve as platform for government ministries and partners to inform the public and update the nation on interventions they have employed to deal with the pandemic. The briefs are conducted every day from 18:00 hours to 19:00 hours.

Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity, in conjunction with the ministries of Health and Information has rolled out loud hailing campaign to sensitize the general public on the prevention and containment of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. In its initial stages of the campaign before it rolled out to all the 28 districts, the Ministry target Lilongwe semi-rural and rural areas where 500,000 citizens reached with messages on Covid-19 prevention.

The countrywide loud hailing campaign will be implemented in collaboration with the Public Communication Cluster stakeholders from the Ministries of Health, Information, Local Government, Education and the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust.

Speaking as he appraised the nation on Covid-19 civic education and sensitization efforts at the Central Office of Information in Lilongwe, Civic Education and National Unity Minister, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo said this is one of the several initiatives the Ministry is undertaking following President Lazarus Chakwera’s declaration of State of Disaster due to Covid-19.

“As a Ministry, we are working in conjunction with various government departments, agencies and non-governmental organizations in civic educating Malawians on how best we can prevent and contain Covid-19 and cast out the misconception Malawians out there have regarding the pandemic,’ said Mtambo. Mtambo added that the Ministry will also utilize social media as well as community and national radio stations in the dissemination of the messages that have been developed about the pandemic prevention.  “The Ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders has developed Covid-19 messages that are currently being aired on various community and national radio stations throughout the country. We are also been using social media platforms to target the youth,” Mtambo said.

Mtambo added that the public sensitization initiatives are being implemented using the funds that President Chakwera allocated to the Public Communication Cluster to help spread messages about the pandemic. Commenting on the development, health expert Maziko Matemba welcome the initiatives, saying people in the communities need to be reached again in light of the second wave.

“This is a welcome development, especially for the rural communities as the messages that they have been receiving is different from those in the urban areas. As a matter of fact, the sensitization campaigns have to be supplemented by follow-up to assess if the right messages are indeed reaching the people,” Matemba said.

Matemba advised that the public sensitization messages should emphasize on the preventative measures that have been put in place, to ensure that people are still following them so as to curb the recent spike. “I would advise that the interventions should involve community structures such as chiefs and Community-based Organizations. People have been hearing these messages and people will not trust them if they come from the same stakeholders,” said Matemba.

Malawi has in the past few weeks seen a proliferation of covid-19 cases, which prompted President Lazarus Chakwera to declare Malawi a State of Disaster on January 12, 2021. By Thursday, January 28, the country had registered a total of 13, 918 active cases, with 628 so far dead from the virus since April 2020.

 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has expressed satisfaction with what the district Peace Committees (DPC) are doing in intensifying peace and stability in the country. Speaking during monitoring workshop in Salima, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Madam Clare Medina said her organization recognise DPCs commitment towards peace building besides that Malawi have never experienced any conflict.

Medina also asked all peace building structures in the country including DPCs  not to relax since the coming of Covid-19 it has brought in some bottle necks that are likely to fuel conflicts such as; job scarcity, low money circulation and mismanagement of social amenities which have a tendency of dividing people. “I would like to ask you to be innovative in your role as peace ambassadors and be much keen on early warning issues for you to ably prevent conflicts before they happen,” said Medina.

The District Commissioner Representative, Shupikai Nyirenda commended UNDP for the financial assistance towards the operations of the peace committees which has greatly enable the committee to execute their work diligently and asked other organizations to emulate the same. She said that as a district will keep supporting the operations of the committees in order peace and tranquility in the district to continue prevailing. 

“On behalf of the committee members, I would like to thank UNDP for its interest in ensuring that this country should be in peace.  It is our hope that since the peace architecture is moving to Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity the operations of the committees will be fully intensified and expanded to community structures,” said Nyirenda.

In commenting on the same, Dyton Kang’oma who is the NPA project coordinator said that through the peace architecture, the government has drafted a Malawi Peace and Unity Commission bill which will among the committee functions is to take care the affairs of the peace committees. “The development of the Malawi Peace and Unity Commission Bill, which if passed, will promote the roll-out of DPCs to all districts in the country and also enhance the framework of the current DPCs basic operating procedures,” explained Kang’oma

District level systems for the NPA have been set up and are active in selected districts of Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Kasungu, Mangochi, Salima and Mulanje. District level bodies called District Peace Committees (DPCs) receive quarterly financial funding from UNDP for their activities from the NPA Secretariat through the Social Stability Programme, which is focused on annual work plans.

 

Government has disclosed plans to construct a mausoleum for late Chakufwa Chihana as a way of honouring him for his contribution towards bringing democracy in the country.

Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Mtambo, disclosed this in Mzuzu when he paid homage to late Chihana at his cemetery behind Reserve Bank of Malawi in Mzuzu.

He said: “The Tonse Administration under the leadership of Lazarus Chakwera would like to respect our heroes.

“This is a lesson to young people and the nation that if we respect our heroes, we encourage the living to work hard so that they can be recognised in future,”

Mtambo said late Chakufwa Chihana remains the father and founder of democracy who was selfless, fearless and patriotic son and that he deserves honour.

“We need this place to be worked on and give him a befitting burial. This government will make sure that we set a heroes acre where all our heroes can be put so that they are all honoured in this country,” he said.

Church and Society representative, Paul Mvula, asked government to come up with a Heroes Act to ensure all heroes in the country are honoured.

“We have a number of heroes in Malawi and we need to have a proper law that governs on how to deal with them for posterity,” said Mvula.

He said other countries have a proper system that recognises their heroes which he described as critical for the nation’s history. He said it also inspires more freedom fighters.

Mvula said it is their wish that a proper mausoleum should be constructed for Late Chihana but also all the heroes including Rose Chibambo.

Chihana’s family representative, Gerald Banda asked government to consider deploying security personnel at Chihana’s resting place.

“This place faces a number of challenges as it has got no electricity and security personnel. This makes the place to look desolate,” Banda said.

In his remarks, Mzuzu City Council Mayor, Kondwani Nyasulu said the council is ready to provide land if government want to establish a heroes acre in the city.

He said it was high time Malawi identified a site where all the heroes need to rest.

Chihana once served as State Second Vice-President of the country under Bakili Muluzi’s administration and was President for Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). He died on June 12, 2006.

The Minister of Civic Education and Nation Unity, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo has called upon chiefs in the country to keep sensitizing their subjects to desist from mob justice practices in order to strengthen peace and unity in their communities.

Speaking during a series visits to the northern region districts Mtambo said it is high time tradition leaders took full responsibility in promoting peace and unity by among others encourage their subjects to seek justice from law enforcing agencies whenever there is disagreement among them.

Speaking Karonga chiefs, Mtambo said traditional leaders have a critical role to play in ensuring people to desist in taking laws in their hands for tranquility of their communities and this country. “As leaders you need to preach peace in all the times and encourage your subjects to seek legal redress whenever there is a problem other than indulging in mob justice practices,” said the Minister. 

In responding to the peace call, the Paramount Kyungu commended government to instituting a special Ministry on peace issues and promised chiefs allegiance towards the ministry’s activities. “As chiefs here we will ensure that peace and unity exist in our areas. We will continue sensitizing our people not to indulge violence acts and practice mob justice as this will bring chaos in the country,” promised Kyungu.

Taking the same message to Nkhataby, Hon. Minister Mtambo called upon chiefs in the district to utilize all existing peace structures for the work of unity to co-exist. He admitted that it is not only chiefs in the district who have the capability of maintaining peace and unity saying government and other stakeholders  intervention is also needed. "The government feels sorry when it sees Malawians killing each other. As government we are trying to promote mediations mechanism and strengthen the enforcement by among other facilitating the establishment of Malawi National Peace Commission which will help to look at issues of peace and unity in all districts and deal with them diligently," He said.

Mtambo also added that as another means of building resilient minds on peace, his ministry will institute the dialogue platform known as Pa bwalo where Malawians will freely discuss issues of national importance and this will assist the to avert from unnecessary violent tensions. District commissioner for Nkhata Bay Rodney Simwaka said as a district council they are trying their best to work hand in hand with different chiefs to reduce different acts of violence's in the district. "The council has a peace committee which works with various agents of peace building including the chiefs, to remind them that they are pillars of the people and need to play a critical role in bringing peace and unity in their communities," Simwaka said.

Commenting on the same, Senior Chief Fukamapili attributed lack of jobs in the district as a recipe of conflicts but he was quick to add as traditional leaders will keep on preaching the importance of peace and unity among their subjects. "Besides that many people are jobless here in Nkhatabay ths does not warrant them to engage in conflicts and take laws in their hands,” sad Fukamapili who added by appealing to various stakeholders to introduce various life skills among the youth for them to be busy rather than planning to commit different violence.

In the recent past Nkhata Bay district has seen ugly spates of violence that have left 52 households homeless with their fishing gear torched and destroyed by a neighbouring village in Traditional Authority Fukamalaza.

The Ministry held meetings with Quadria Mulslim Association of Malawi (QMAM).

The Department of National Unity organized a meeting with all Seniors chiefs in Mangochi to discuss issues of peace and national unity where the Minister outlined measures put in place to unify malawians.

The Hon. Mtambo addressing Chipembere relatives in Mangachi in a drive to truth and reconciliation modalities.

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