AMHVoices: Reflections on COVID-19 lockdown

Men wear protective masks as they walk down a deserted street on the first day of the 21-day nationwide lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

THE lockdown, which was extended by two weeks by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday is an important component of the call to action in the response to COVID-19. The duration of the crisis nor the depth of the effects of COVID-19 are not yet known. However, COVID -19 has disrupted the way of life and is testing relations at all levels.

By Garikai Mabeza, Our Reader

It is at a time such as this that the spirit of ubuntu needs to be reflected upon each and everyone of us. It is at a time such as this that each Zimbabwean needs to put all hands on deck and be as considerate to the next individual regardless of background. COVID-19 has shown that it knows no boundaries and does not discriminate.

This is a call to action for all those in leadership at all levels, government, private sector, non-profit, church and community level to step up and demonstrate authenticity and a sense of responsibility.

A few reflections have shown that we have a few bad apples in the communities who would rather profiteer at a time like this.

I applaud the action to deliver basic commodities into the local communities, but still the way these are sold has left a lot to be desired.

A key element is mealie-meal, which despite being delivered in time and being sold at the subsidised prices of $70, has proven to be a potentially hotspot for the spread of COVID-19. This is because most of the shops have decided to let people gather for hours at a minimum four hours before selling the commodity in the most chaotic and hazardous manner.

In addition, there has been ill-treatment of the masses and this does not augur well for the successful implementation of the lockdown.

Spare a thought for the elderly who spend hours to get this precious commodity and then go on to look for other essentials while also searching for other basics to rush home and stay indoors.

My questions are, could there be a group of people working in cahoots with supermarkets to profiteer from the subsidised maize meal?

Why would someone profiteer at a difficult time as this? Is there no better strategy to ensure maize meal reaches the masses?

For example, it does make sense that mealie-meal is being delivered daily at a supermarket in Harare’s industrial area. Who lives there during lockdown?

Would it not be fair to send this to residential areas, even if it means selling it from a truck in liaison with the local leadership? This would not only be efficient, but would also be orderly and would go some way in compelling people staying at home.

These are tried and tested methods that have been used even in the rural areas where people walk long distances for services.

Lastly, there is need for leadership to call upon the moral campus of people at the forefront of the distribution of basics in order to ensure fair distribution. COVID-19 is real, stay at home!