Vendors, police running battles escalate



ZIMBABWE Election Support Netwwork (Zesn) this week received numerous reports of running battles between police and vendors from its Long Term Observers (LTOs) resident in the 210 National Assembly Constituencies.

Zesn said many of the vendors have since resorted to selling their wares in their backyards for fear of arrest. “However this is disconcerting as it increases face to face interactions between the vendors and customers in environments where health protocols such as wearing of face masks, hand washing, and physical distance are not observed.  Such reports were received from Highfield East, Hatfield and Dangamvura-Chikanga Constituencies.”

There is also a general surge in the reports that were made by LTOs with regards to incidents of suspected Covid-19 cases in their respective Constituencies.

“The need for all citizens to act responsibly and to observe stipulated health protocols cannot be over-emphasised. Reports of members of the public not maintaining the required physical distance, not wearing masks or washing/sanitising their hands continue to be received.

“Such behaviour by members of the public is usually exhibited at banking queues, bus terminus, boreholes and this week such reports were received from reports from: Chitungwiza South, Glen View North, Chitungwiza South, Harare East, Hatfield, Highfield West, Chimanimani West, Chikomba Central, Goromonzi South, Marondera Central, Murewa West, Chakari, Bikita South, Mberengwa East, and Mbizo Constituencies.

“Many of the shops that were located in suburbs are reportedly not taking temperatures of customers before they enter into their shops, neither are they providing hand sanitising nor strictly enforcing the no face mask-no entry policy. Tuck-shops were reportedly operating beyond 15:00hrs.”

Several bottle stores continue to operate by selling alcoholic beverages behind closed doors to members of the public. “These bottles were reported in Goromonzi West, Makoni North, Muzarabani North, Chegutu East, Kariba, Muzvezve, Bikita South, Mwenezi East, Mwenezi West, Lupane West, Hatfield, Bulilima East, and Umzingwane Constituency.”

The LTOs reported that unlicensed/unauthorised transport operators commonly referred to as mushikashika were reportedly taking advantage of the transport challenges that people were facing by offering their services to members of the public. “Such reports were received from Motoko North, Zvimba West, Zvimba East, Insiza South and Zvishavane-Runde Constituencies. The reports also indicate that the vehicles were carrying passengers that exceeded the limits stipulated by the vehicles’ manufacturers.”

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to present a significant burden on the country’s health infrastructure. Frontline workers in the country’s health system, who remain an integral part of managing Covid-19, have not been spared.

“This week, ZESN received reports of disruption of operations of some local clinics. For instance Makoni West Constituency’s Tsanzaguru Clinic was reported to have temporarily closed after a staff member from the clinic tested positive for Covid-19.

“A similar report was made by the LTO from Insiza North Constituency a member of staff at Filabusi hospital reportedly tested positive for Covid-19. Some workers at Gokwe Hospital were reported to have also tested positive for Covid-19 this week. In addition several reports of employees of banks, supermarkets and other public spaces who tested positive to Covid-19 were received in several Constituencies.”

Zesn said the uniformed forces continue to enforce adherence to stipulated health protocols and provisions of lockdown orders. “There were reports of arrests of citizens moving in public spaces without wearing face masks, turning back of those who were traveling without exemption letters.

“Such reports, this week were received from LTOs who reside in Luveve, Marondera East, Murewa North, Magunje, Chiredzi West, Masvingo Central, and Hwange Central Constituencies.”

Zesn added that the amount of force employed during enforcement of lockdown order continue to vary. “In some instances it has been reported that members of public who defy lockdown are assaulted, for instance those breaking the curfew, by continuing to move around after 18:00hrs or those congregating at bus terminus. Such reports were received from Luveve, Kuwadzana East, and Chiredzi West Constituencies.”

This week the Beitbridge West LTO reported increased border patrols by uniformed forces in order to arrest those using undesignated boarder entries and exit points. “Such actions by the military are critical in efforts to flatten the curve as most of the ‘boarder jumpers’ are evading the mandatory isolation period of 21 days which is a must for all returning residents and travellers coming into the country.”

The majority of reports about food aid distribution have been positive with beneficiaries being selected based on need and prescribed health regulations being observed when food aid is distributed.

Overall the number of reports of food distribution was few this week. The Department of Social Welfare distributed food in Lupane East Constituency at Mpofu Dam Wall and in Gokwe-Chireya at Makhovula Centre.

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