THE chilly wind produced an eerie sound as it swept over empty pavements, empty bus termini and empty buildings rioting up and down empty streets.
This was the 31st of July, when Harare’s CBD resembled a ghost town as the government had unleashed security forces to thwart planned protests.
There was no sign of business activity anywhere. The goods displayed in shop windows beckoned, but there were no takers — neither customers nor sellers. All shops were under lock and key. It had been like that the whole week.
Not a sound could be heard; not even that of money-changers, vendors, sales agents or the “vrooming” of vehicles… the street people had been spooked and left just as beggars had gone because there was no one to beg from.
However, the traffic lights continued with their sequence at the intersections, except for the few security forces’ vehicles, whose drivers ignored them anyway, there was no one else on the roads.
As a journalist performing an essential service I was struck by the magnitude of the Zimbabwean tragedy. Here was the CBD now paralysed by politicians — the CBD which should have been bustling 24/7. Lawyers, doctors, scientists, pharmacists, entrepreneurs… were nowhere to be found.
While other nations were launching astronauts into orbit, Zimbabweans couldn’t get into their CBDs at a time when
“sound business operations” should be our key phrase. Imagine two NASA astronauts splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico last Sunday for the first time in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft, returning from the International Space Station to complete a test flight that marks a new era in human spaceflight.
Surely, our leadership needs to stop this nonsensical political squabbling and channel its energy towards developing our productive capacity. They should realise that flourishing businesses are the path to development. We cannot assume global relevance without sound business operations and focus. It is not a secret that the most powerful nations in the world — the “Great Powers” — are those with sound business operations which allow them to dominate global production.
When employees are barred from going to work targets are not met, production is affected and millions of dollars are lost.
These losses do not only affect businesses but the government as well as it makes losses too — since it cannot maximise tax collection from closed business ventures.
Without production, hunger and starvation prevail.
Without production, a country can never claim to be moving forward.
Isn’t it shameful that our country is endowed with abundant human and natural resources yet it continues to import food?
The once beautiful Zimbabwe has now become a breeding ground for nasty “viruses” which are retarding development. Our most harmful viruses are political squabbles, which are attacking the nation’s immune system. The others mutating on the rotting country are poor policies.
Our leaders should stop acting as if it’s a crime to want to work. They should realise that for us to move forward we must enforce the need to be productive in our minds. We’re bound to continue suffering if there is no production and service delivery.
Those who instruct security services to bar traffic from entering the CBD and order professionals to make a U-turn without properly vetting them are doing the country a disservice.
Blanket instructions can cause a lot of confusion and affect even companies that fall under essential services providers.
Effective strategic communication is key among security forces enforcing lockdowns.
That person being forced to turn back might be a doctor who was going to treat your loved one, or a scientist who was going to make a breakthrough on Covid-19 treatment, or an entrepreneur who was going to create jobs for fellow Zimbabweans, or a journalist who was going to expose quarantine escapees…the list goes on and on.
Essential services should be allowed to continue smoothly with the essential staff executing their duties efficiently and working obsessively to meet deadlines.
Between a global pandemic forcing many to stay at home and a constant news stream of political unrest and tensions we need to keep doing our jobs, keep showing up every day, and keep everything together.