Bulawayo residents have expressed mixed feelings over the government’s decision to extend the 30-day Covid-19-induced lockdown by a further two weeks, as the powers-that-be seek to bring the pandemic under control.
Zimbabwe has to date recorded over 33, 000 and more than 1, 000 cumulative infections and deaths respectively since the pandemic hit the country in March last year.
Addressing the nation last Friday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, said the 30-day lockdown which includes dusk to dawn curfew which came into effect on January 5, following a surge in Covid-19 infections during the festive season, had been extended by two weeks to February 15.
“The extension of the lockdown is a good move,” Mbekezeli Nyathi, told CITE.
He was however quick to point out that it would negatively impact on the livelihoods of many self-employed Zimbabweans.
Nyathi said there was no doubt the lockdown was yielding some results as evidenced by the decreasing daily infections and deaths.
“But we shouldn’t be concentrating on locking down people as a nation, solutions are needed,” he said.
“Hospitals need to be equipped with the relevant equipment.”
Sithatshisiwe Moyo said while the lockdown was effective in controlling infections, it was regrettable that it affects mainly the self-employed.
“The lockdown affects mostly the citizens who are self-employed because right now they are stuck at home with nowhere to start from, not having any food on the table,” she said.
“I think the current lockdown to some extent has been very effective considering the daily statistics that we have been receiving. There has been a drop in the number of new infections, deaths and an increase in the number of recoveries. The police should deal with people roaming around town without any serious business.”
She said it was unfortunate that the law enforcement agents were letting people pass through road blocks without exemption letters.
Some residents however said they did not welcome the extension.
“The lockdown extension brings more suffering; it was done without consultations with the general public as the government didn’t consider that,” said Nobukhosi Khumalo.
“We are fighting two battles and that is hunger and Covid-19. The extension is working against people’s efforts to earn a living as you know that the majority of Zimbabweans are self-employed.”
She said the majority were caught between a rock and the hard surface, adding livelihoods had been negatively affected, adding the lockdown has not really achieved its intended purpose.
“Instead it (lockdown) worsened the situation as evidenced by rising cases,” she said.
“The curve is not flattening because people have been forced to engage in negative coping strategies that expose them to Covid-19 such as travelling in overcrowded vehicles at night without letters to access basic services and goods in cities and towns. In addition there have been mass arrests during lockdown, resulting in overcrowding in police cells, which might also have contributed to rising cases.”
Philani Ncube said the lockdown extension would worsen the plight of many unemployed Zimbabweans.
“The extension of the current lockdown was not a good idea taking a look at our current situation,” said Ncube.
“People are not employed; the cost of living is extremely high. There isn’t any help from the government in terms of food. The extension of the lockdown will destroy the lives of ordinary citizens because already there is no work; we are talking of vendors.”