Human rights activist, Khumbulani Maphosa, has urged the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to enforce hand sanitisers or handwashing equipment in fast food outlets in the city as a preventative measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Zimbabwe on Monday recorded its first death from COVID-19 from the two confirmed cases so far.
Last year in December, Maphosa petitioned council to, as prescribed by Section 26 of the Public Health Act to “take all lawful and necessary precautions for the prevention of the occurrence, or for dealing with the outbreak or prevalence, of any infectious or communicable diseases.”
He also quoted Section 103 of the Public Health Act that allowed local authorities to take all lawful, necessary and reasonably practical measures for maintaining its district at all times in a clean and sanitary condition.
But Maphosa claims the local authority has not responded to his petition
“Last year in December, I sent a petition to the council after having observed that most fast food outlets in Bulawayo, which sell food such as hot chips don’t have facility for customers after buying from them to wash or sanitise their hands. The facility these outlets have are at the back meant for their staff not customers,” he said.
“In some outlets, I pointed out that the salt, vinegar and tomato sauce bottles are handled by so many people and requires one to sanitise their hands and when I asked for a sanitiser, I was told they don’t have.”Khumbulani Maphosa.
After such an experience, Maphosa noted that he conducted a research in the city centre to find out which food outlets had handwashing facilities for the public.
“We discovered only 28 percent of the fast food outlets have washing facilities for the public. I then wrote petition to BCC, sent it to council and sent it to the WhatsApp accounts of all the councillors including the mayor. I also sent an email to the mayor, town clerk and public relations office, calling upon council to exercise their mandate and compel these fast food outlets to have hand washing or hand sanitising equipment for the public.
“The reason why I say handwashing or sanitising equipment is some people acknowledged they need handwashing but after washing, their lotion dried up, therefore sanitisers were ideal,” said the resident.
He noted that sometime around October and November, the city council recorded some diarrhoea cases in Nkulumane but was unsure where the cases emanated from.
“I suggested that lack of hygiene and attention was a cause. Bulawayo is transit route to Victoria falls and Bostwana, while diseases such as cholera and typhoid are common in the country. Then people pass through here in Bulawayo, touching this and that, spreading typhoid and cholera, which need people to be cautious and wash their hands.
“As for my petition, I would like to believe the matter is still in council. I will take the issue up when I have exhausted council processes. Last week, I sent councillors messages saying they should have listened to me in December and now that COVID-19 was in the country they could be having plan B instead of panicking,” Maphosa said.
Contacted for comment, Council public relations officer,
Bongiwe Ngwenya said the council was yet to respond to the matter.