(Patients and guardians from referral and district hospitals want the Ministry of Health and Department of Human Resources officers fired for incompetence)
Court clerk: My Lord, these patients and guardians have been camping here since last week. They did not know that you could not hear any case that week because you were on vacation. They, however, argued that they could not go back to hospitals where they are not being attended to until their concerns were addressed by this court. As guardians who dragged most of these patients here started chanting anti-establishment songs, threatening anyone who dared chase them, we granted them their request to camp here my Lord.
Judge Mbadwa: You should be aware that court decorum does not allow you to make noise here. Since you have chosen to represent yourselves, only one person will be allowed to speak in this court on your behalf. Do you have someone who will act as your counsel?
Mdwazi Chingafwe: On behalf of guardians of patients who are gathered here, I Mdwazi Chingafe, has volunteered to represent the complainants.
My Lord, we should have been at public hospitals as guardians of mental patients and other poor ill people who did not choose to be sick but are now being treated as if they committed a crime for seeking medical help at public hospitals. Both patients and guardians are being treated with disdain. Nobody is attending to us at the hospitals. Doctors and other medical staff are nowhere to be seen.
We know that the problem of lack of essential drugs in public hospitals is well-documented but we have no choice because we cannot afford treatment at private hospitals.
Judge Mbadwa: Mr Chingafwe, it appears you can speak for the whole day if I let you so, but we don’t have the time. Can you be brief?
Chingafwe: Forgive my over-indulgence in this matter. But my Lord this is a matter of life and death because some of us have lost patients we took to hospital to be saved because there just was no one to attend to them. I know that this country is rationing water and electricity, but rationing of medical personnel is something that I didn’t expect would be happening to Malawi 51 years after independence.
My Lord, the available doctors, who are in fact poorly paid, are being rationed between public and private hospitals and their likelihood of being present at public hospitals is as remote as the likelihood of having power all day every day. What is surprising is that the country spent millions of kwacha training health workers who are not interested in serving the people they took the oath to serve .
Mbadwa: Your point Mr Chingafwe?
Chingafwe: My Lord some people at the Department of Human Resources do not know what they are doing. I am asking this court to exercise the powers it has to have these people and Ministry of Health bosses and, of course their minister, arrested for negligence. We hold them responsible for the deaths of our sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces who died at the hand of ward attendants as doctors were nowhere to be seen. Treasury bosses should be arrested, too, for failing to manage our taxes. We hear they have bought vehicles to ferry concubines of these officers, yet they can’t hire a doctor or a nurse.
Mbadwa: I am angry because what Mr Chingafwe has told this court has exposed the rot that is in this administration. We should all be worried when we see the value of life of ordinary people being less than that of vehicles of government officers. These officers are people who have never been inside a ward of a public hospital and they don’t care a hoot about hiring enough medical personnel or stocking public hospitals with drugs. Negligence would not be an ideal charge to arraign these officers with. This court believes their act is not only treasonous but also tantamount to genocide. They systematically want to wipe a section of poor people by denying them basic services. I order that they be arrested forthwith