At a time when various sections of the opposition establishment accuse state authorities of hiding behind the novel coronavirus scourge to silence dissenting masses mooting to ‘streetify their anger’ on July 31, the Zimbabwe Government contends that a recent sharp increase in Covid19 deaths- especially the seven mortalities recorded in the past week- is primarily the reason for a dramatic tightening of lockdown regulations in the southern African country.
Zimbabwe is on the verge of plunging into public protests after locals fronted by docked Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume successfully mobilised themselves using social media to set July 31 2020 as the date for the envisaged street protests over perennial economic decay, widely blamed on incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF Government.
Various opinion leaders have claimed that the Mnangagwa administration has been cowardly using the Covid19 pandemic as an excuse to clandestinely trample upon the democratic rights of its citizens and suppress prevalent dissent in the troubled Sadc country.
But, briefing journalists in Harare yesterday, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, said Zimbabweans have now come to a moment ‘we all worked hard and prayed hard that it would not come’, adding that the the majority of deaths and new infections attributed to the virus were reasons behind the further tightening of Covid19 regulations.
The country has been on national lockdown- which Mnangagwa latter revised to an apparently loosened Level 2- since March 30, this year.
Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe cannot afford to remain complacent while it’s citizens continue to succumb to a pandemic that has killed 25 locals, with positive cases surpassing 1 500 in the past four months.
“In the last week alone, we have lost seven Zimbabwean lives to this grim reaper, Covid-19. This is a moment we all worked hard and prayed hard that it would not come, but it is here. My fellow Zimbabweans, we have to confront this reality that it will take you and I to keep ourselves safe,” Mutsvangwa told reporters.
“The cumulative number of confirmed local transmission cases has exponentially risen from 286 to 791 only in one week. The majority of these cases are being recorded in Bulawayo and Harare, surpassing imported cases in the former,” said Mutsvangwa.
“Zimbabwe, we cannot afford to be complacent neither can we continue to put our lives at risk on the hope that somehow we can escape Covid-19. The reality is that as our infection cases increase our risk as a nation also increases”
She also added that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on the local communities in a negative way, saying ‘we cannot ignore or run away from that fact’.
“Our only hope is to stop being adventurous and comply with the preventative and protective measures.”
Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi has announced that only urbanites with exemption letters will be allowed access into the central business districts of various cities and towns.
Nyathi also expressed concern over daring party enthusiasts who have a habit of throwing house parties in the townships where imbibers interact without observing set Covid19 regulations such as the typically flouted social distancing requirement.
“The security services in the country, including the police and the army strongly warn the public of tightened lockdown regulations with immediate effect. People are becoming complacent,” Nyathi said.
“Just yesterday we arrested 1 478 people for violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations and most of these arrests include people who are walking aimlessly, failure to wear a mask in public, opening of unlicensed shops and shebeens among other offences. House parties continue to be a problem and people are drinking from bars and they close themselves inside and drink,” he said.
“They are not only risking themselves to infections, but their family members as well as they will go back to their homes so we will not tolerate that,” said Asst Comm Nyathi. Because of these increased violations of the Covid-19 regulations, we therefore notify the public that only those with exemption letters will be allowed into the central business district with immediate effect”.
Nyathi said the tightened lockdown measures were bent on ensuring public health safety.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews