Cyclone Freddy: President Chakwera to Address Parliament

Some of the survivors rescued by an ISAR team in Nsanje district after being trapped for several days Some of the survivors rescued by an ISAR team in Nsanje district after being trapped for several days Pic by Zodiak Online

Lilongwe: Malawi’s President’s Lazarus Chakwera is today expected to appear before parliament to address MPs on issues of national interest with a special focus on his government’s recovery plan following Cyclone Freddy.

The president will address the house in the afternoon in the capital Lilongwe, 315.2 km west of the mostly devastated commercial city of Blantyre.

The address comes after the president’s seven-day tour of the effected districts in the southern part of the country which he embarked on March 15 upon his return from South Africa where he had a stopover en route from an official foreign trip.

Cyclone Freddy hit when the president was way in Qatar attending the 5th United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries.

Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda says members of parliament will be allowed to ask the president questions only related to the cyclone.

He says the president is expected to outline his government’s strategy to deal with the effects of the cyclone, seek views from the MPs and call for more international support toward the rescue and recovery programme.

Governance expert Victor Chipofya says he expects Chakwera to give hope to Malawians affected by Cyclone Freddy and assure the nation the plans and policies his government will develop will ably take away their pain.

“The president will not only be addressing parliament but the whole nation. That is the place where laws and government policies are made,” said Chipofya in a telephone interview with Zodiak Online, “The most important thing is how that meeting will translate into relieving the suffering of the people on the ground.”

On Thursday, Chakwera has called for a meeting with former heads of state, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika, to brainstorm with them on the effects of Cyclone Freddy and how to deal with its aftermath.

In interview with CNN on Tuesday, President Chakwera said Malawi was a country in mourning, adding that each passing day is revealing the devastation that has been caused by the cyclone which made landfall in Malawi on March 11-12, triggering record landslides and flooding across 15 districts.

No Respite Yet

Ten days on, bodies are still being retrieved and more survivors remain trapped. The situation is easing, though, with the rescue and recovery efforts by the Malawi Defence Force and the Malawi Police Service backed by equipment and personnel from Tanzania’s military and the UK International Search and Rescue.

Also supporting the efforts are the governments of South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, UN agencies, Red Cross Malawi and several local individuals and organisations.

An update from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) showed a gloomy picture as of March 21:

“The number of displaced people is at 553,614 with 543 camps set to accommodate the displaced. The death toll has risen from 499 to 507 with 1,332 injuries. The number of reported missing persons is at 537 from 427.

“The Malawi Defence Force (MDF), the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the United Kingdom search and rescue/recovery teams continue their operations. In Chilobwe, Blantyre District, the MDF and the MPS have recovered 50 bodies since they started search and recovery operations on 14th March.”

It says the MDF is also airlifting relief items, medical supplies and personnel to places not accessible by road using helicopters provided by the governments of the Tanzania and Zambia.

According to DoDMA, an inter-agency assessment team that has been supporting affected district councils with assessments to establish the total number of affected people and their needs will finalise its work on Friday, March 24.

The most affected districts/areas are Balaka, Blantyre City, Blantyre District, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, Zomba City and Zomba District.

President Chakwera declared a state of disaster in southern Malawi.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 22/03/2023

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