Written by Chinsinsi Cheketa and Tamandani Hau
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has lamented that the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy, has brought the country to its knees more than any climate change event in living memory.
Dr Chakwera was speaking in Parliament Wednesday where he made a statement on the Cyclone and answered questions from Parliamentarians on the same.
Dressed in a black suit with a low-down tone, Dr Chakwera disclosed that the number of people confirmed dead has already passed 500, relating that this would be the same if all parliamentarians, their spouses, and one family member all died in one day, thus wiping out the entire legislative branch of government from the face of the earth.
“Apart from being an angel of death, Cyclone Freddy has also proven to be an instrument of incalculable human suffering”, said Chakwera.
He added “Physically, over 1,300 people have sustained injuries, and psychologically, the human trauma and anguish Malawians are facing is unimaginable, as thousands are reeling from the agony of burying their loved ones with some losing more than one relation”.
As part of the rebuilding process, the Malawi leader went on to ask lawmakers to support the new legislation his administration will be bringing to Parliament to regulate the management of disasters and relocation of people from disaster prone areas.
However, just like it has been with the previous address, Dr Chakwera did not clearly indicate if the Disaster Risk Management Bill which is touted to be the remedy to massive devastation caused by natural calamities such as floods, will be tabled in this sitting of parliament.
Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, suggested the need for the government to roll out mass registration exercises for people in the Southern region, as most of them have lost their National Identity (ID) cards which are essential for them to access basic services.
Nankhumwa has also asked Dr Chakwera to set up a team that will be looking into all financial donations made to the country, to ensure transparency and accountability of the funds.
“I suggest a team should be set up based on professional and not political advice to evaluate the situation on the ground. The team should comprise of officials from the Department of Lands, Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) and the Malawi Research and Education Network”, said Nankhumwa.
According to Nankhumwa, if the team discusses and works professionally, the country would be aware of the extent of damage caused by the disaster.
Meanwhile, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), is confirming that over 550, 000 people have been displaced, 1,300 sustained injuries and over 530 missing and unaccounted for in 14 southern region districts.
Dr Chakwera is on Thursday expected to meet the country’s former presidents, including Professor Peter Muthalika, Dr Bakali Muluzi and Dr Joyce Banda to update them on the current Cyclone Freddy situation.