No time for pranks

A common story today would have been of a billionaire investor visiting Zimbabwe to scout for opportunities in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.

The investor, we would have reported, wants to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects—a key enabler for economic growth—a sign of confidence in the administration which has burnt midnight oil to create an investor friendly environment to win back the hearts of investors that had been giving Zimbabwe a wide berth on toxic  economic environment.

We would say a day later, we pranked you on April’s Fools Day.

But we are living in abnormal times in which the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and interact. In this new normal, practices such as shaking hands that have been part of the social fabric since time immemorial are becoming extinct. So vicious is the pandemic that it would be another Easter holiday in lockdown for a number of global citizens as governments move to contain the virus amid a slow pace in vaccination programme.

Some years ago, it would have been unheard of that such a calamity like Covid-19 could trouble the four corners of the globe. 

The world was used to natural disasters (earthquakes, floods and cyclones) and viruses such as Ebola. During those days, the other parts of the globe would be unaffected and cushion the affected people with donations. This does not mean that there have been no donations. Rather, donations have come from those that fought the pandemic or are in the battle against Covid-19 but have to extend a helping hand.

The Covid-19 pandemic has left a trail of destruction across the globe.  Global infections have surpassed 125m and deaths were over 2.7m as of Tuesday.  In Zimbabwe, the pandemic had infected 36,858 and 1521 deaths as of Tuesday.

A latest report showed that hunger in Zimbabwe’s urban areas has increased with 2.4m now struggling to meet their basic food needs.

The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report said the lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19 have dealt a severe blow to poor urban communities, the majority were daily wage earners living hand to mouth.

It states that 42% of urban households will not be able to meet their cereal requirements this year compared to approximately 30% for the same period in 2019.

Thousands of employees have been thrown into the streets as some companies re-align their operations while others have closed shop.

The road ahead is rocky but not impassable. The silver lining comes from the vaccination programme.

The first phase of the vaccination programme targeted at frontline workers. The second phase launched last week has drawn traction amid hopes it would spur on those sitting on the fence to get vaccinated. It is a step in the right direction, although it is still a long way before Zimbabwe inoculates 60% of the population to achieve herd immunity. The scars of Covid-19 are still fresh and as Zimbabwe navigates the rugged Covid-19 terrain, we believe this is not the right time for pranks. This situation is extraordinary, requiring extraordinary measures of which pranking is not one of them.

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