The Government of Malawi is disturbed and dismayed by the High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda’s order that released four Chinese nationals who had been quarantined on arrival at Kamuzu International Airport on Tuesday 17 March, 2020.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services sent back to China ten nationals and detained four others because they did not have return air tickets for their immediate return. The four were quarantined pending processing of their return air tickets.
The deportation and quarantining of the Chinese was in keeping with international practice currently recommended to curb the spread of the devastating coronavirus from high-risk countries.
It was while the four waited for the tickets that a local legal firm, Wilknson & Associates, sought a court order which Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda granted, releasing the four even before any tests were conducted on them and before the recommended 14-day quarantine period had elapsed.
Government finds Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda’s order disturbing and short on patriotism as he has undermined local and global efforts to protect lives from the virus.
At a time different players are taking active roles to prevent importation of Covid-19 into Malawi, it is disappointing that Judge Nyirenda is pulling in the opposite direction. The court order has potential to make Malawi a weak link in global efforts to fight Covid-19.
Government would like to commend the Immigration Department for acting diligently to protect Malawians from potential importation of Covid-19.
Government would also like to commend various sector players who have heeded measures introduced to protect Malawians and the rest of the world from the outbreak.
It is against this background that Government is dismayed with Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda’s order that may have put millions of Malawians at potentially high risk.
We find it unfortunate that of all players, it should be the Judiciary that chooses to put the lives of millions at a potential risk, especially at a time players in different sectors have complied with Government’s guidance in Covid-19 prevention.
Government, therefore, joins the many voices that have spoken against the court order. Government would like to ask Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda to join the efforts in in the fight against Covid-19, instead of being an enemy of the efforts.
Finally, Government encourages the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services to apply for the vacation of the injunction for the sake of fighting Covid-19.
Going forward, it is the the expectation of the Government that the Judiciary will play its role in protecting Malawians and the rest of the world from the devastating Covid-19.
Mark Botomani, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION, CIVIC EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY