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Malawi Ordered to Stage a Fair Lockdown

Malawi was one of the last countries in the world to announce its first case of Covid-19. But ever since, it has been embroiled in a constitutional row about a lockdown the government wants to impose to tackle the pandemic. The High Court took the unprecedented step of blocking the government’s plans to impose a lockdown until more had been done to help those worst affected. Now, President Peter Mutharika has announced an emergency cash transfer programme for the poorest people in what is one of the world’s poorest countries. The government will target 172,000 households, who will receive a monthly payment equivalent to almost $50 through mobile money transfer from Friday. On 15 April, the government announced a 21-day lockdown, which was due to start three days later but campaigners complained that the government did this without providing help for those in need. The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) went to court to challenge the government on the issue and the courts blocked the lockdown. “While we respect the health regulations regarding the lockdown, we want a lockdown that follows all… laws and we do not want rights of vulnerable groups to suffer,” said independent rights activist Victor Mhango according to the AFP news agency.