Mnangagwa hints on lockdown extension

By Lloyd Takawira

President Mnangagwa has hinted at extending the level 4 lockdown which was suppose to end next Monday in order to curb the spike in Covid19 confirmed cases.

Speaking today at a Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) meeting held at the State House in the capital, Mnangagwa said the decision to extend the lock down will be informed by health experts advice.

“In the coming week, I will be announcing how we are proceeding with regards to the lockdown . This will be informed by scientific data and recommendations from our health experts.” 

Meanwhile, health experts have said they fear the worst if the lockdown measures are relaxed and warned the government against reopening borders. 

Speaking to the media, Itai Josh Rusike director of Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) said reopening borders and easing lockdown measures might escalate Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 cases.

“The opening of the South African borders may further escalate our COVID-19 cases including deaths,” he said. 

Meanwhile the business community has pleaded with government to relax the current level 4 lockdown. 

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president, Denford Mutashu said relaxation of lockdown measures will enable businesses to survive  the difficult conditions brought by the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Mutashu said successive lockdowns have had a negative impact on businesses and this has been exacerbated by local authorities’ propensity to increase shop license fees and also a hike in tollgate fees by ZINARA.

“Our biggest challenge as business is fighting Covid-19 amidst an internal fight for its own survival where operating hours have been set at 08:00hrs to 15:00hrs while a curfew ensues from 6 pm to 6 am the following day” Mutashu said. 

“Movement of goods and services is also currently slow due to roadblocks”.
However ordinary Zimbabweans who caught up with this reporter in the  streets expressed strong reservations over the continued lockdown extension. 

Marylynne Matsunda, a vendor at Machipisa business center had this to say, “tanzwa nayo lockdown veduwe. l expect the President to end this lockdown. Each day I templerun with the police”.

Munashe Mutoti, a fruit vendor in the avenues are said, “l last went to work in December. its been a month since l last passed through the central business district. l have a family to feed. l survive on vending. l have been surviving on my little savings and even went on to spend my capital. It’s back to square zero for me . l expect the President to remove the lockdown measures.”

Asked what his take on the health experts warnings Mutoti had this to say, “we are talking about people who are skilled. They don’t know anything called lockdown. Their salaries are paid every month. They have to advise with a view on some of us in the informal sector.”

On monday neighboring South Africa is set to re-open the Beitbridge border on the 15th of February after it was closed for a month following its coronavirus resurgence.

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