Art of Symbolism in Presidential jab
By Sam Dalitso
The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over across the globe, if one is to measure both the resultant health and economic repercussions.
However, the response to curb the pandemic continues to vary from one country to another in view of availability of resources and political will. This means that the successes and failures of such response is solely the responsibility of individual governments.
Malawi is one such country that is on the right path towards reducing fatalities and infections of the second wave.The positivity rate has in the past three months dropped from over 30% down to around of 7% complemented by a substantial reduction in deaths.
From word go since he ascended to power President Lazarus Chakwera has driven a clear and firm response strategy to ensure mobilization and distribution of resources to all stakeholders in the fight.Then came Thursday’s vaccination live on national TV at the field hospital stationed at Zomba State Lodge. He upped his game in many aspects.
For leading Malawians in the inoculation drive by getting the first jab, the President has sent all the right messages to a country that has been devastated in a unique way by the effects of the global pandemic.
Why was it necessary for a leader to take an extra mile as was the case in Zomba?The main positive drawn from the President’s deliberate action is that he comes to the vaccine narrative in a multi-role play. A pastor, a political and social influencer, all coiled into one.
Over the past months there has been a cloud of uncertainty over the safety of any Covid-19 vaccine, let alone AstraZeneca. These fears have been facilitated by deep-rooted cultural and/or religious beliefs within Malawian communities.
It was therefore right and proper for key opinion shapers like political, religious, traditional and social leaders to shift people’s mindset towards acceptance followed by getting vaccinated.
In that one moment of receiving the vaccine, President Chakwera harnessed these roles under his authority thereby sending a strong signal to a nation in need of safety and assurance.
If someone had wanted assurance from a religious leader, Chakwera the pastor sorted that out.
If others needed guarantees from a politician, Chakwera offered just that as Head of State and Government.
For those who yearned for a social influencer to put things straight for them, the President – being a public figure – was there in person to demonstrate how it is done.
By getting the first jab of the vaccine live on national TV, the President is endorsing the safety of the vaccine and mobilizing his countrymen and women to follow suit if the country is to achieve herd immunity sooner than expected.
On any day, such a brave act speaks volumes of decisiveness. Being the first to cross the deep waters before anyone else, that’s what true leadership entails.
The Malawi leader is now among the few African leaders who have been vaccinated live on national TV after Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Nana Akuffo Ado of Ghana, Wavel Ramkawalan of Sychelles, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, Macy Sall of Senegal and King Mohammed of Morocco.
In all this, Chakwera’s words and actions on the day postured the nation’s mindset towards a trajectory of victory against Covid-19.