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Malawi Court rules APM’s national lockdown was unconstitutional

Judge Kenyata Nyirenda

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)–The High Court, sitting as a constitutional court in the Lockdown Case, has ruled that the Covid-19 rules that were gazetted on April 9, 2020 during the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime were unconstitutional.

Three Judges: Fiona Mwale, Dorothy De Grabrielle and Ken Manda, in the judgment delivered yesterday, said the rules were ultra vires section 31 of the Public Health Act.

“The Minister of Health has powers to make subsidiary laws without departing from the parent Act, hence the Covid-19 rules under which the lockdown obtains are unconstitutional in view of section 44,45, 46 and 58 of the constitution,” reads the judgement.

The then president Peter Mutharika had announced a 21-day lockdown which was meant to begin on Saturday April 18 i n a bid to contain the spread of the virus in the country.

In his address Mutharika, warned that up to 50,000 Malawians could lose their lives to the Covid-19 virus but he did not outline a social safety net for the vulnerable during the lockdown, which prompted a civil society group to seek a stop order from the court.

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition successfully sought a seven-day injunction stopping the government from implementing a 21-day national lockdown.

“Our message is simple, we are not accepting this issue of lockdown unless government comes up with proper measures to protect the lives of Malawians, all we are saying is that different stakeholders such as religious leaders, civil society organizations should come together to digest this issue and come up with a proper solution,” said Gift Trapence chairperson for Human Rights Defenders Coalition.

By that time Malawi had recorded 16 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and two COVID-19-related deaths.

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