THE Zimbabwean government has always been economic with the truth when it comes to sensitive public information. And if ever there was a time when citizens needed timely and factual information, it is now when the country, just like the rest of the world, is fighting the spread of the coronavirus.
While it is the norm for the Zanu PF government to always want to keep the population guessing when it comes to most of its policies, a sensitive subject such as the COVID-19 outbreak and its management, including the issuance of regular statistics, the need for regular and constant updates can never be over-emphasised.
It is for this reason that we welcome the recent High Court ruling compelling the Health and Information ministries to provide daily updates on COVID-19 in all the 16 languages recognised in the Constitution and through all available platforms for the benefit of the citizens.
This is not a political issue, but a public health issue, so there really is no need to be secretive. We are in this together. Every citizen is only as safe as the next. So there is need to ensure that citizens are constantly fed with accurate figures and information concerning COVID-19.
It is against this backdrop that we welcome Justice Joseph Mafusire’s order made on Friday last week following an application by Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe that Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa should provide a list of all private and public COVID-19 testing and treatment centres available at national, provincial and district levels; the type and quantity of medical equipment they have; as well as details of how well-wishers could assist in the fight against the diseases.
This will enable the effective management of all detected cases of COVID-19, and also enable individuals in communities to know where to seek help in the event that there is a suspected case.
Government must indeed unveil its entire plan to the public concerning its response to the outbreak.
These are basic and fundamental rights that should be realised as provided for in the Constitution.
Providing citizens with truthful and relevant information will empower them to also assist effectively in efforts to contain the virulent outbreak that has threatened to decimate entire nations across the globe.