Starting Friday, April 18, Malawi was supposed to begin a twenty-one-day lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but an injunction by the High Court the day before delayed the implementation of the lockdown by a week until a judicial review could take place.
This is now the second time the Malawian courts have frustrated the administration of President Peter Mutharika.
Human rights activists, religious organizations, and vendors brought the challenge against the lockdown to the courts, believing the government had taken this decision without providing for the needs of its citizens as well. Given that some of the complaints are of a constitutional nature, the High Court decided to refer the case to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 26. No date has been set for the Supreme Court’s deliberation.
The government announced a cash aid program for the country’s poorest.
This is now the second time the Malawian courts have frustrated the administration of President Peter Mutharika, the first after the Constitutional Court nullified his narrow election victory and ordered a new vote on July 2. Possibly responding to the grievances brought forth against the lockdown, the government announced a cash aid program for the country’s poorest, which will dispense a monthly payment of US$40 (matching the minimum wage) to about a million Malawians and small businesses over the next four months.
The World Bank had authorized a US$37 million fund to help the country handle COVID-19, which to date has reported thirty-nine cases and three deaths.