President Lazarus Chakwera’s act of goodwill to be the first person to take Covid-19 vaccine jab is a great art of symbolism and bravery tenet of great leadership.
Good leaders, they say, do not tell their people how things are done, they show their people how it is done, because talk is nothing but cheap.
President Chakwera has taken the vaccine to show his people that there is nothing sinister about taking the vaccine save for the fact that it is safe and meant to protect people from the pandemic.
The global pandemic is far from over across the globe, but if we are to measure both the resultant health and economic repercussions, then we still have a high mountain to climb.
However, the response to curb the pandemic continues to vary from one country to another due to 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 percent complemented by a substantial reduction in deaths.
From word go since he ascended to power, Chakwera has driven a clear and firm response strategy to ensure mobilization and distribution of resources to all stakeholders in the fight.
Then to add icing on the cake, the Malawi leader on Thursday at exactly 12:23 hours CAT recieved his vaccination live on national TV at the field hospital stationed at Zomba State Lodge. He upped his game in many aspects.
Perhaps, you are wondering as to why the president chose to get his shot of the vaccine, the answer is simple and straightforward; transparency is one of the virtues of President Chakwera’s administration.
So, the President wanted everyone to know that their servant leader has taken the first bullet and allow everyone follow his lead.
For leading Malawians in the inoculation drive by getting the first jab, the President has sent all the right signals to a country that has been devastated by the effects of the ravaging global pandemic.
Was it necessary therefore for President Chakwera to take such an extra mile when he could have just done it without lights, cameras and action on?
The answer is a resounding YES!
The main positive drawn from the President’s deliberate action is that he comes to the vaccine narrative in a multi-role play. An eloquent pastor, a political and social influencer, all coiled into one has a heart for his people and country.
Over the past months there has been a cloud of uncertainty over the safety of any Covid-19 vaccine. Fear of the unknown enveloped the country. And, 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 and clout, thereby sending a strong message 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.