If there’s probably one critical area of concern which Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF Government need to confront head-on (apart from, of course, the impending turbulence of the envisaged July 31 protests), it is the continued spike in Covid19 cases in the country, with the virus now taking its toll on the country’s under-equiped prisons.

At Bulawayo Prison, a total number of 43 inmates and 23 prison officers tested Covid19 positive, with more local infections being recorded in the second city in a marked surge in coronavirus cases.

Amidst the adverse consequences caused by the indiscriminate virus within the cells, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spokesperson Superintendent Meya Khanyezi is appealing for donations with indications that inmates lack face masks, sanitisers and washing soap.

Khanyezi told state media that the ZPCS is currently incapacitated to accommodate all its officers in the prison camps, and this has seen a number of them staying outside camps, making it difficult to completely seal the prisons off.

“We have 23 prison officers and 43 inmates who have tested positive to Covid-19. Like the national statistics, cases keep rising and we are doing our level best to contain the situation in all our prisons,” she said.

“We have isolated the confirmed cases within the prison and we are doing our best to identify their contacts, who will be quarantined as well. We desperately need masks or alternatively material to make those masks because our inmates can make them, we decrease chances of infection,” Khanyezi revealed.

Only last week, a countrywide ban on prison visits was effected after four inmates and one prison officer at the same prison tested positive for Covid19, which resulted in authorities sanitising the correctional facility as a mitigatory measure.

Khanyezi also attributed the surge in coronavirus infections to the fact that the inmates and prison officers have lots of interaction with members of the public in court, or even in police holding cells before joining other inmates in prison cells.

“This tends to make them more vulnerable and we are doing our best to ensure that we contain the situation,” the ZPCS national publicist quipped.

Zimbabwe’s health authorities on Sunday recorded 133 new Covid19 cases bringing the cumulative number of coronavirus infections to 1 611 in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic on March 20, this year.

Official statistics say 25 nationals have perished from Covid19 in the past four months.

Meanwhile the Harare administration has since tightened its Covid19 regulations with increased police induced stop-and-search incidences warying the general citizenry, already hard hit by worsening economic conditions in the southern African nation.

Opposition activists are on record accusing Mnangagwa’s administration of clandestinely exaggerating Covid19 figures to find an excuse for ‘locking down democracy’ and halt the planned public protests slated for 31 July.

And, in an apparent show of intraparty instability  rocking the Harare administration, award winning investigative journalist and filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume, widely regarded the leader of the looming July 31 protests, were yesterday arrested following a blitzkrieg on opposition activists in the capital.

On the other hand, Job Sikhala who spent the better part of yesterday scurrying for cover from suspected state security agents said his wife also escaped a terrific road chase by hired assailants who closely tracked on her vehicle in a movie-style hot pursuit while coming from a church service in Zengeza.

state media
Additional Reporting: Zwnews