Let’s follow lockdown guidelines religiously

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THE lockdown and guidelines announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday night, and subsequently specific details given by the Social Welfare minister later, are there to help Zimbabweans, and of course the world, in the fight against the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) that is ravaging the globe.

Currently, an estimated 34 000 people have succumbed to the disease — including one from Zimbabwe — while about 700 000 infections have been recorded globally.

Limiting movement and mixing between people will necessarily reduce contact and as such the chances of contracting and transmitting the deadly virus.

The government has allowed some outlets to remain open after considering the state of the country’s economy but the majority of our people cannot stock on food and other provisions to last until the end of the 21-day period simply because the money is not there.

Of course, many will argue that the government should have come up with some kind of package for people to stay at home. The country’s economy is largely informal where the majority are not formally employed. Those companies that have had to close will find it difficult paying salaries when they are not producing.

Because of this, the government was supposed to look at this well before putting the lockdown in place. Already, following the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s announcement last week — in the wake of coronavirus breaking through our borders — that those with free funds could use the US dollar, some outlets have started charging very high prices for basic commodities.

Unscrupulous Zimbabwean businesspeople have always been there in Zimbabwe. They always stock up on various commodities, taking advantage of supply chain loopholes — including government subsidy schemes like the one on maize meal — and later exploit people’s desperation as has become apparent during this 21-day lockdown to fleece them of their hard-earned cash, selling basic commodities at unbelievably exorbitant prices.

Zimbabweans have themselves to blame for this eventuality. Despite the government’s efforts in advising them against hoarding goods and with some supermarket chains — clearly overwhelmed by the number of shoppers over the weekend — telling people to avoid crowding as they would be open, people still thronged shops to buy groceries and other goods.

The government must ensure compliance with the lockdown by screening people who get into town. Movement must be strictly monitored, otherwise the key objectives of the lockdown will not be achieved.

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