PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said the 21-day lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19 would lead to the suffering of the already comatose economy, but said his focus now was to save lives and turn to the economy later.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Addressing the nation on day one of the three-week long lockdown, Mnangagwa said the decision was not easy, but was necessary to save lives.
Mnangagwa, who was flanked by members of the inter-ministerial taskforce on COVID-19 that include Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, Obadiah Moyo (Health) and Monica Mutsvangwa (Information), said he was certain Zimbabwe would come out of the pandemic stronger.
“This was not an easy decision to make. But this is the right decision. Our economy will survive. Our economy will recover, but right now, nothing is more dear to me, nothing is more sacrosanct than the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. We can emerge from this a strong, healthy nation,” Mnangagwa said.
However, he did not give updates on the number of tests done so far.
“In life, we all must face problems and challenges which are beyond our making that have been forced upon us.
“Currently, COVID-19 is no longer a mere challenge in many countries around the world, it is far worse than a mere challenge, an out-of-control problem, in fact, a pandemic that is taking thousands of lives daily. I say this not to induce fear in your hearts, but that you appreciate the gravity of the situation.”
He said some of the advanced countries in the world had lost thousands of people to the pandemic because they left it until too late, adding that his government was acting to ensure the challenge does not become insurmountable.
By 9pm last night, 36 938 people had succumbed, while 770 038 people had been infected with the virus that originated from China towards the end of last year. Zimbabwe has recorded seven cases and one death.
“The lockdown began today and government will work tirelessly to make sure we are ready to face all scenarios,” Mnangagwa said, adding medical staff in the country’s hospitals should be protected and government was making efforts to ensure that was done.
Mnangagwa also said government was working tirelessly to ensure the provision of food to all households in the time of the crisis.
“Food suppliers and supermarkets will remain open and vital industries will ensure lights remain on. I repeat, if you need to leave your homes to buy food, you will be able to do so. The security personnel will listen and protect and keep us all safe. All this is in your hands. It is not easy. This is not a punishment. It can’t be avoided. It is an opportunity to save lives,” he said.
“How will we save those lives? By acting responsibly and staying at home, washing our hands and practising social distancing.”