Malawi’s main political coalitions continue to defy Covid-19 prevention measures in campaigns for a fresh presidential election in July.
Huge political rallies were held over the weekend that completely defied social-distancing and mask-wearing measures hours after the country reported its highest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.
Malawi is hold the vote on 2 July because the re-election of President Peter Mutharika in May 2019 was nullified by the country’s Constitutional Court.
Opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera, who has formed an alliance of nine parties, held a huge campaign rally in the northern city of Mzuzu on Sunday.
President Mutharika’s running mate, Atupele Muluzi, also addressed a huge gathering of his own on the same day in the capital, Lilongwe.
The rallies were held a day after Health Minister Jappie Mhango confirmed 13 more coronavirus cases, with five of the cases detected among health workers. The country has to date reported 57 cases and three deaths.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has advised political parties to seek new ways of campaigning in the wake of the pandemic, but neither of the two sides has heeded the call.
A health ministry official described the campaigns as regrettable, but said their role was limited to just prescribing measures and it was up to other arms of government, such as the police, to enforce them.