Time to tap into Mthuli’s surplus


PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa must be hailed for his bold and sound decision to lock down the country for 21 days to contain and mitigate against the spread of the lethal coronavirus (Covid-19) starting today.

The world over, governments have resorted to lockdowns to deal with the scourge that has wrecked economies and killed thousands since the virus was detected in China in December.

In China, the lockdown worked wonders and the country has tremendously minimised the number of new infections.

Closer to home, our major trading partner, South Africa, locked down the country with effect from Friday.In his address to the nation on Friday night, Mnangagwa was unambiguous.

“Covid-19 is upon us and if experience elsewhere is anything to go by, it can spread in leaps and bounds in so short a time.

“We are worried that even though our numbers remain low, there is a possibility of wider spread in communities.

“Further, in a few months’ time winter will be upon us, creating conditions ideal for more infections, we should, therefore, take measures ahead of the danger.

“Starting Monday 30 March and subject to further review Zimbabwe will be under a total lockdown for a period of 21 days … Workers manning our essential services including health services and outlets, emergency and security services, and operation of key utilities like water and power are exempted.

“To ensure compliance, I have instructed the command element to deploy as appropriate in support of civilian authority,” decreed Mnangagwa.

The intention is very noble and must be supported. What lacked in Mnangagwa’s declaration, like what happened in most countries that have locked down, was a stimulus package for companies that will be distressed by the shutdown and interventions for workers and the poor.

It’s common cause that our economy is tanking and does not have the reserves to tap into to bail out distressed companies, workers and the poor like what has happened in the United Kingdom, United States, Rwanda and South Africa. These countries have come up with sagacious stimulus packages.

Mnangagwa should have at least come up with interventions for companies, workers and the poor.
Is it not the appropriate time for the government to tap into the surplus Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has been talking about ceaselessly to cushion distressed firms, workers and the poor?

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