By Irvin Takavada
The country is witnessing a surge in the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths despite that the country is on a lockdown.
The ministry of health says most of the source of infections are now community and not imported as was the case early last year when the dreaded virus hit the country.While the country is guided by the World Health Organisations recommendations on ways to contain the novel virus ,it seems the Zanu PF government is just ‘copying and pasting’ without looking at its own best ways to deal with the pandemic.
Essential Services Workers Could Be Exposed
While many citizens who are able to work in this current lockdown are relieved that they can feed their families ,it is however worthy noting that the same workers are being exposed to the Covid-19 virus. First,it is the way the essential workers are being transported by the Zupco buses that defeats the whole purpose of protecting the citizens from the Covid-19 infections. Social distancing is rarely observed in the public buses meaning that this could be source of mass infections.Most of the times ,frontline workers including nurses are being transported in the same buses.There are very few companies that are testing their workers for the Coronavirus so the marjority are going about their business without knowing the status of their employees.
Staying Home Now Makes No Sense
So if these essential services workers are being exposed to this novel virus each and every day as they commute to and from work. With most of them not knowing their status, are they not also part of the drivers of the spiralling community infections? They could be infecting those who would have stayed home. The other reason why staying home no longer makes sense is that government has not tried to cushion the informal sector where the bulk of its citizens eke out a living. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission was apt when it said there was the need for social grants to alleviate the burden the sector is reeling from the shutdown.
Mass Testing Should Be Gvt’s Priority
Since the virus stuck us ,there has been concern at the number of tests that have been done so far. Equally disturbing is that most citizens have had to endure the steep costs of Covid-19 tests being done in our private institutions when government is prioritising the erection of Mbuya Nehanda stature. While it is symbolic and a worthy development, it is the timing that makes it insensitive. We have seen that during elections time the government pours resources to reach even the marginalised areas ,it is time the Zanu PF administration reciprocate the same energy to conduct more free testing for Covid-19 .As we speak, there is an upsurge in use of herbs as citizens who suspect that they have contracted the disease try the remedies.
This writer thinks it is conceivable that the Mnangagwa-led administration should take a leaf from our neighbour Zambia which has been localising lockdowns to hotspots of the virus so that the economy is not grounded. In Zimbabwe , we have noticed that there are some cities and towns where the rate of infections are relatively low so it is ideal top ensure they remain open but with other restrictions rather than a complete lockdown.
Transparency On Covid-19 Funds Shrouded In Secrecy
Last year,the country was dogged by the Drax Scandal where millions of dollars were gobbled for the purchase of Covid-19 PPEs and other consumables. The obscenely inflated bill sparked outrage among the hard-pressed Zimbabweans and we later saw the axing of the then minister of health Obadiah Moyo which critics say was just for the optics.This can be vindicated by the fact that the same minister despite being involved in such a scandal had his company awarded a licence to conduct PCR tests. Interestingly, the company has been reported to be issuing Fake PCR certificates.
The above scenario shows that a lot of money is being misappropriated by this ruling party elites in the guise of fighting Covid-19 and to avoid the public glare, the government stubbornly wants the lockdown to be in place.
As we speak ,Rwanda has started distributing free food to vulnerable families in Kigali affected by the COVID-19 lockdown and this is worthy emulating.
So Mr President, in as much as we need to remain united in fighting the pandemic, it is prudent that you ensure each and every citizen is protected from the virus. Relegating people to stay home without mechanism for their protection and survival is akin to a death sentence.