Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera cut short his working visit to Tanzania and returned home on Thursday afternoon to attend to urgent domestic priorities, according to local media reports.
Presidential spokesperson Brian Banda told reporters that Chakwera was expected to land at Kamuzu International Airport in the capital Lilongwe in the afternoon.
News website Malawi24 reported that Chakwera’s decision to return home early comes as gender activists were expected to hold their first protests against his administration on Friday.
The activists want Chakwera to reconstitute the boards of directors of parastatals in order to increase the representation of women.
Radio station Capital FM Malawi reported on its Twitter account that the Women’s Manifesto Movement organised the protests to express their anger on what they refer to as the exclusion of women in appointments to boards and the cabinet.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) was expected to join the protest. National co-ordinator Luke Tembo told the radio station that they could not sit and watch things fall apart. The Lilongwe city council has approved the protest.
According to online publication Nyasa Times, the nationwide protests on Friday would have marred Chakwera’s return.
Chakwera upset gender activists on Monday after he said at a news conference that there were few women who were well qualified, and he challenged gender activists to give him the CVs and directory of qualified women to appoint them.
Activists lamented the exclusion of women in the appointments of several boards of parastatal organisations. He is also accused of overlooking the youth.
Chakwera faced a public backlash for not wearing a face mask against Covid-19 while in Tanzania.
According to Malawi24, Chakwera did not wear a face mask upon arrival in Tanzania on Wednesday and an epidemiologist said he should be quarantined when he returned to Malawi in accordance with his own government’s coronavirus rules.
He wore a face mask when he left Malawi, but photographs of his arrival in Tanzania showed him walking with and chatting to Tanzanian President John Magufuli without wearing a mask.
During his trips to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, Chakwera wore a face mask.
Magufuli declared in June that Tanzania had eliminated the coronavirus pandemic and he reportedly commended people for not wearing masks.
Tanzania last reported coronavirus cases in April, reporting 509 cases and 29 deaths. Malawi has recorded 5 803 cases, 180 deaths and 4 575 recoveries.
African News Agency (ANA)