In less than two weeks Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 cases have doubled and the
surge has been attributed to locals returning home from neighbouring
President Emerson Mnangagwa relaxed restrictions on Covid-19 from
Level Four to Level Two, debunking the myth that Zimbabwe would not
be affected by the pandemic as much as other countries.
In no time, the central business district was teeming with people literally
from all walks of life, security protocols at coronavirus checkpoints became
lax as the economy (which by the way is highly informalised) opened up.
As it appeared that life was returning to normalcy, many woke up to a
different Zimbabwe on Tuesday morning. Police turned away hordes of
people from the central business district after Covid-19 cases surpassed the
While this was happening, Foreign affairs secretary James Manzou this
week appealed to the Kindness Paradza led Parliamentary Portfolio Foreign
Affairs Committee to lobby treasury to provide funding which would assist
compatriots come back home.
With many companies winding down operations Zimbabweans in the
diaspora have also been affected socially and economically.
During his submissions, the permanent secretary also announced that
700 bodies of Zimbabweans had also been repatriated from South Africa
during the ongoing lockdown. According to authorities in Pretoria, some of
the dead could have succumbed to complications related to the respiratory
ailment. Manzou also disclosed that nearly 40 Zimbabweans who were
living in the United Kingdom died from the virus.
Many of them were frontline workers in the National Health Service. That is quite chilling.
In the midst of this, authorities in Harare appear to be on the conundrum
on which way to go as cases continue to spike. Zimbabwe’s economy is
fragile and will be one of the hardest hit in the region. Balancing economic
interests and public health needs is something Mnangagwa’s administration
could be grappling with. But for how long? Returnees are escaping isolation
centres and the country’s ports of entry are porous.
Zimbabwe should take heed of advice from Africa’s Centre for Disease
Control which speaks against prematurely opening up economies during
the lockdown. What Zimbabwe needs now are policies that stimulate
mining and tourism among other key economic sectors during and after
Authorities in Harare should also tighten restrictions and communicate
which course of action government is taking. In the absence of this, cases of
corruption involving law enforcers manning checkpoints could rise while a
culture of impunity could also grow unabated.
After all information is key