Malawi’s presidential campaign is in full swing despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
As soon as the country’s Supreme Court of Appeal cleared the last hurdle on the road to the 2 July presidential election, campaigns were intensified with total disregard of measures prescribed by health experts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Last week, crowds gathered around opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera in the streets of the capital Lilongwe, to celebrate the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal to uphold the annulment, for fraud, of Peter Mutharika’s re-election in 2019.
Thousands of people were already in Blantyre the day before, this time, to escort the outgoing president to the Local Electoral Commission (MEC).
From public meetings, publicity caravans and door-to-door visits – the electoral frenzy is in full swing throughout the country, as if the novel coronavirus pandemic did not exist.
“Of course it’s important to protect yourself from Covid-19,” says Jacqueline Banda, one of Peter Mutharika’s faithful followers. “But this country is in crisis and we have to win this election. And the only way to do that is to mobilize en masse for the president.
“Has the coronavirus really reached Malawi? I doubt it,” stated Thoko Namitowa, who is running for the opposition.
“If it had, there would be deaths everywhere,” she added. “I think the government is padding out the numbers to derail the election. So I keep going to the rallies, because I know that in Malawi the coronavirus is very political…”
Indeed, while the pandemic has stirred the sacred union reflexes of most of its neighbors, it’s also fueled some very partisan fights in Malawi.