Who will police the enforcers during the lockdown?

President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week announced new restrictions to
manage the spread of the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives across the globe.

He said the government took the decision to tighten the current lockdown
measures following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.

The number of deaths related to the respiratory ailment also spiked over the past weeks raising concerns over the southern African country’s response to the disease. Since announcing the lockdown in March just over 100,000 tests have been carried out.

Mnangagwa said the restrictive measures will entail curtailing the freedoms that many Zimbabweans have been guaranteed. For critics, the timing of the new measures was also motivated by the simmering political tensions in the country.

A planned protest that was scheduled for July 31 appears to have been foiled. Civic organisations say this is an affront to democracy and is putting the rule of law to test. While protecting public health is one of the key responsibilities of the state, Mnangagwa’s administration should ensure that security personnel enforcing the lockdown do so without impunity.

Following past clashes between security forces and civilians, Zimbabweans
remain wounded and this should not be in perpetuity. Our country needs
healing, transparency, and good governance.

Apart from the expected cases of heavy-handedness by security personnel during the recently announced curfew, protocols, and measures should be
in place to weed out corrupt activities that may occur under the cover of

The Zimbabwe Republic Police, which has been releasing stats of people that have been arrested or turned back at home for violating Covid-19 regulations, should also expose members of the force engaged in corrupt activities under the cover of darkness.

Such activities not only prejudice the state of revenue in the form of admission of guilt fines but also fuel the spread of the disease. Policing the police and other security personnel enforcing the lockdown measures should also be intensified.

Classifying the media as essential services is one thing that this administration did well.

But in doing so, the enforcers should also understand what role members of the fourth state play, the long hours they invest in informing, entertaining, and educating millions of Zimbabweans awaiting the perishable product the press produces.

Harassing and intimidating journalists should be discouraged.

On our part as the media, we promise to be on top of the Covid-19 story, shining the light in dark spots and doing what we know best in a professional manner without fear or favour. That way, Zimbabwe’s democratic space, which has been under the spotlight for the wrong reasons, can only mature.

We are in this together!

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