Thursday, 23 July 2020

BYO DEFIES ED LOCKDOWN


MANY Bulawayo residents yesterday defied strict lockdown regulations announced by President Mnangagwa including that non-working sections of the population should stay at home.

Instead, residents flooded the city centre and public areas in residential suburbs.

President Mnangagwa, in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, imposed a dusk to dawn curfew and said businesses should operate from 8AM to 3PM while banning religious and political gatherings among others.

He said the country should forgo some freedoms that citizens have been accustomed to in order to effectively contain Covid-19 whose cases are rapidly increasing in the country.

The new measures took effect yesterday but in Bulawayo it was business as usual as people, particularly unregistered informal sector operators defied the stay-home regulations.
  
The new regulations were largely adhered to in the formal sector as most shops opened at 8AM and closed at 3PM.

A snap survey conducted by Chronicle showed that there was largely no compliance to the announced new measures.

Also, security forces were apparently not thorough in enforcing announced measures.

In the city centre, vendors set up their stalls at undesignated points including along 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue Extension while illegal money changers were also milling around at their usual spots in the city centre. 

In the western suburbs, people were moving around the streets without following World Health Organisation guidelines including the need for wearing masks and social distancing.

The news crew observed that while security forces were enforcing lockdown regulations there was a bit of laxity in some instances.

Police increased roadblocks but they were not thoroughly checking for exemption letters especially on people travelling on private vehicles and appeared to concentrate more on people using Zimbabwe United Passenger Company buses.

Those without the letters in the buses were made to return home. Those who were walking into the city centre were mostly left to their ways.

Banks were also not enforcing social distancing measures in queues outside banking halls although adherence was followed inside their premises.

The news crew spoke to some people who were violating regulations who claimed that economic factors were pushing them out of their homes.

“I managed to find my way to town from Cowdray Park without an exemption letter. I came to look for piece jobs. This is how I feed my family. Without food it’s difficult to stay at home and I cannot stay at home,” said a woman who was hoping to get a job along 4th Avenue between Robert Mugabe Way and Josiah Tongogara Street.

Mr Jacob Chirwa from Nguboyenja said it was difficult to keep most people at home considering the nature of the country’s economy.

However, another resident Mr Timothy Zizhou said Government’s measures should be adhered to as they are meant to protect the nation from the virus.

“It’s better to prioritise people’s health than focusing on the economy if the cases have started to increase. So, I believe it will be better if lockdown measures are strengthened,” said Mr Zizhou.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said they have increased deployment of officers to enforce the new regulations.

“Today we have been conducting campaigns educating the public about the need to adhere to laid down regulations. Hence, the public should not cry foul when they get arrested. Regulations should be followed without people making excuses,” said Insp Ncube yesterday.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said it was in the interest of every citizen to follow lockdown regulations. He said those struggling should visit social welfare offices and get assistance.

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said complying with laid down regulations is not for Government’s benefit but citizens’.

“In that respect, I encourage every citizen to comply with what health authorities have laid down for us as part of the mitigation measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People should stop unnecessary travelling and stay at home in view of the threat posed by this pandemic. Abadala bathi ‘kubo kagwala akulasililo’ meaning we can avoid the Covid-19 disaster if we stay away from environments that could expose us to this infectious disease. Adhering to laid down procedures will benefit us collectively. Let us fight Covid-19 together,” said Minister Ncube. Herald

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