Monday 23 March 2020


Led by the courts, Zimbabwean authorities and political parties were yesterday moving rapidly to prevent all unnecessary gatherings to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

Trials and all non-urgent matters are being deferred for at least two months in the courts, while Harare City Council is looking at modifying its markets places.

Both Zanu PF and MDC-Alliance have since postponed meetings.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who is the chairman of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), directed that all trials, non-urgent hearings and civil weddings be deferred for at least two months. 

Courts will, however, continue to hear bail applications and initial remands, where there are constitutional rights involved, and will continue to hear urgent matters.

All areas of potential risks such as reception areas, registries and court rooms will be regularly sanitised and fumigated.

The JSC staff at courts, lawyers and litigants attending courts will be sanitised at the court entrance and are required to keep a distance of at least two metres.

Yesterday, city health department’s director Dr Prosper Chonzi confirmed “there are areas where we are worried about especially the Mupedzanhamo area and all our flea markets. People will be so crowded and there is very close contact with potential clients as well as suspects. So in such an outbreak, it will be difficult to contain it if you do not manage those things,” said Dr Chonzi. 

“As council, we have recommended that, yes, we should do something about our flea markets, Mupedzanhamo and even the fresh vegetable market. Recommendations range from closure to engineering that can see people observing the one-metre to two-metre social distancing,” he said.

The council is also concerned about public transport.

Both Zanu PF and the opposition MDC Alliance have stopped all party gatherings and believe a united approach is required to contain the virus.

Zanu PF National Political Commissar, Cde Victor Matemadanda yesterday called on the people to exercise caution and play a big role in the fight against the global pandemic.

“Coronavirus is not something to play with or about. Coronavirus is real because it’s now a pandemic. The whole world is exposed and this means that every health rule and law that can help in containing the disease should be abided by.

“Everyone should collectively play his or her part to mitigate this disease’s impact and spread so us as a party are now going to go by President Mnangagwa’s instruction that we should avoid gathering in our numbers,” he said. 

“We as a party want to have a personal touch with every member and voter, we should have a personal contact so we want to use this opportunity to continue urging the nation to desist from public gatherings and crowding.”

MDC-A national organising secretary Mr Amos Chibaya said: “Of course we are taking the call by (President) Mnangagwa to stop any gatherings of up to 100 people seriously so we are suspending all our party meetings and gatherings even at ward level.

“As the MDC, we have since issued a statement on the suspension of all gatherings as we seek to collectively prevent the spread of this pandemic which has claimed so many lives around the world,” said Mr Chibaya.

In a statement, police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said it was a criminal offence for people to defy directives issued in a State of Disaster.

Asst Comm Nyathi appealed to the public to cooperate with given directives by the Government in respect of safety and security measures of avoiding large gatherings,” he said. Herald


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