Govt policy must be clear, defined


ZIMBABWE has, in the past 40 years, continued to be dogged by poorly-defined government policies which lack clarity.

More often than not, the leadership has been driven more by the desire to preserve power than an improvement in the social and economic lives of the country’s citizens. Populist policies have never worked since independence in 1980.

Right now, it is very difficult to tell whether Zimbabwe is in lockdown or otherwise, judging by the movements and travels taking place around the country despite the obtaining coronavirus pandemic. The country has so far recorded 36 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including four deaths and nine recoveries.

In the past few weeks, the government’s ambivalence on the Covid-19-induced lockdown is frightening. For a number of reasons that include financial constraints, we have not been able to test as many of our citizens as we would have wanted by now and yet we have made decisions based on figures that do not seem realistic.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that as a country we would rather err on the side of caution, we all thought he meant that the country would practically remain in lockdown until such a time when the government had done enough to warrant lifting the restrictions,

Other countries, particularly South Africa close to us, have been forthcoming with figures and timely updates while their version of the lockdown was clearly being enforced more. In Zimbabwe, enforcement of the lockdown has remained questionable as town centres, growth points and other shopping centres have remained hives of activity.

It appears the government was pretending to be imposing restrictive measures while practically allowing things to proceed as usual, in the process putting the lives of the people at risk. We do not have much knowledge about Covid-19, something that should have made us even more cautious. Zimbabwe has one of the poorest health care systems on the continent and yet we throw our citizens at the mercy of fate.

With proper awareness campaigns and citizen education, people make safe and informed choices which will not endanger other citizens, assuming that we have flattened the Covid-19 curve as a country. With the World Health Organisation warning last week that the worst may still have to happen on the continent, the decisions we may have made already could come back to haunt us in the not-so-distant future.

For a country like Zimbabwe, with our economic problems, we can only expect the worst.

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