‘Lockdown elitist, targeted at poor people’

A local pressure group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu, says the national lockdown order which is now in full effect is elitist as it punishes ordinary and poor people who are holed up in their homes while the rich continue with their enterprising lives. 

The re-introduced Covid-19 lockdown order was effected with a dusk to dawn curfew while reducing working hours for essential services, suspending other activities such as informal trading and confining citizens at home.

Secretary General of Ibhetshu Likazulu, Mbuso Fuzwayo, said people were aware that Covid-19 was rapidly spreading hence the need to take stern measures but was alarmed by the government’s incompetence which moved to shut down a country’s economy.

“This is a global tragedy and a national catastrophe that requires government to act responsibly by taking human rights-sensitive and science-based corrective measures not the window-dressing and public relations stunts that will cost the nation more precious lives and destroy our struggling economy as we have been seeing,” he told CITE.

“We sadly note that the lockdown announcement by the Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga (also Zimbabwe’s Vice President), is very elitist in that it punishes ordinary and poor people while allowing the rich to proceed with their lives as they normally do. We shockingly note that the restaurants, bars and small and medium business owned by ordinary men and women are banned yet those that are rich who can afford hotels are privileged to still enjoy these services.”


Fuzwayo lamented besides destroying the livelihoods of already struggling poor Zimbabweans, the lockdown order was an insult in that it implied the poor – their small businesses and way of life was responsible for spreading Covid-19.

“We ask, if the virus only infects only the ordinary people, whether the poor are the only ones who engage in Covid-19 spreading behaviour when they go to restaurants and bars? There is no scientific evidence to support that rich people spread the virus any less,” he said.

The human rights activist said it was worrying that up to this day, no mass testing had been done for ordinary people except those who are showing symptoms, most whjo resided in urban centres and those who could afford to pay the exorbitant prices for the Covid-19 test. 

“We are deeply concerned that, given the inadequate tests, the statistics that the government is giving the nation may not be a true reflection of the situation on the ground, which is an underestimation of the tragedy, putting the lives of the ordinary people at risk. We have observed that our health workers amongst many others are ill-equipped to deal with Covid-19, some in rural health centres develop the symptoms and isolate and return to work after feeling fit, without being clinically certified,” he said.

Due to low testing levels, Fuzwayo argued that it proved “beyond any reasonable doubt” the double standards of the government and that it did not care about the lives of ordinary people. 

“The poor people are clearly on their own, abandoned. It is disheartening to note that up to now Covid-19 referral centres around the country are yet to be completed and fully equipped, a clear indication that the government is surely not taking this tragedy seriously, something that puts the lives of our people at a huge risk,” the activist said.

“The government seems to be more concerned with punishing those that violate Covid-19 regulations than curbing the spread. Besides immense human rights violations that are taking place during the enforcement of the lockdown, police stations where the alleged offenders are taken to do not observe the coronavirus preventions protocols like the social distancing.”


He said nevertheless, Ibhetshu LikaZulu continued to urge the public to observe the recommended Covid-19 preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus.

“Always wear masks, covering nose and mouth, practising social distancing, thoroughly and frequently washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser, regularly cleaning surfaces like tables and door handles, and avoiding unnecessary movement,” Fuzwayo.

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