CIVIC society organisations yesterday expressed concern over what they termed reckless behaviour by residents, particularly youths, in most high-density suburbs of Bulawayo who are defying the lockdown regulations.
BY SILAS NKALA
A survey conducted by Southern Eye yesterday revealed that it was business as usual in most high-density suburbs, with people freely mixing and increasing chances of local transmission of COVID-19.
Church and Civic Society Joint Forum national chairperson Anglistone Sibanda said it was worrying that people were still recklessly behaving.
“It goes to prove that government enforcing lockdown without effective behaviour change strategies will not work. In fact, most people stayed at home not because they are preventing the spread of the virus, but because the police and the army blocked roads that lead into town,” Sibanda said.
“They fear the police, not the pandemic. The other challenge is the nature of our urban settlements that were created as compounds for workers and were never meant for family set-ups nor do they enable social distancing, which is a new phenomenon. The solution is rapid and robust community-centred campaigns to educate the youths on the dangers of coronavirus, scaling up the police patrols backed by other stakeholders that include local community leadership.”
Sibanda said government should consider decentralisation to reduce overpopulation in urban centres.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association director Micheal Ndiweni said: “It is true that we see people sitting on the roadside and roaming around aimlessly because there is limited lockdown enforcement. More activities at the shopping centres where people are queuing for mealie-meal are worrisome.
“On housing, for example, look at Makokoba, their yards are very small and people are crowded and people end up sitting outside the yard. So issues to do with crowding have implications when we see people sitting outside.”
Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo said: “They believe it (coronavirus) only affects the rich and affluent. It’s a serious behavioural and attitude problem. It must be addressed through massive awareness programmes that target mindsets,” Nkomo said.
#ThisConstitution leader Abigail Mupambi said civic education at grassroots level was missing and the root cause of behavioural problems.
Bulawayo already has 10 COVID-19 cases with one death.