YESTERDAY, members of the uniformed forces upped their game in enforcing the lockdown which is now in its second week.
Zimbabweans, pressed with shortages of cash, mealie-meal and other essentials, were slowly filling up the city centre, Mbare produce markets and supermarkets in their locality without observing social-distancing and basic hygiene, putting their lives and those of their contacts in danger and that had to come to an end.
The intervention by the police with the aid of the army yesterday was timely and worth saluting as people appeared oblivious of the devastation caused by COVID-19 globally.
There has been heavy police and army presence on all roads leading into Harare’s central business district and though intimidating, it obviously is for our good, especially this Easter holiday where people tend to travel a lot.
Anti-riot police went around the capital forcing people to stay at home, Arcadia being a case in point where police were seen in action with hailers, urging people into their houses, reminding them that coronavirus was real and staying indoors was one way of combating the spread of the deadly virus.
What the uniformed forces did yesterday, blocking unnecessary movement, limiting traffic into the city centre and thoroughly interrogating those purporting to have letters from their respective companies was essential.
Hundreds of cars were turned back while thousands of people were forced to return home and the message was clear: Stay home, stay safe and save lives.
One bad decision by the authorities could be fatal for the country, the people and the economy, hence the need for the uniformed forces to take seriously the issue of enforcement to suburbs where people continue as if it is business as usual. It is not.
That is why we think relaxing the lockdown to allow for vegetable sales or remittances collection may seem like a good idea now because of the nature of our economy, but we have left a large part of the population vulnerable.
There is a huge price to pay for such sloppy decisions. Other countries are tightening restrictions, not relaxing them.
While soldiers and police on the streets are synonymous with brutality and tragic ends, this time around, it is certain they mean well — keeping people from harm. We support them fully.
COVID-19 has claimed three lives in Zimbabwe, according to official statistics, with 11 having been infected and as we approach winter, the numbers are set to rise, hence the need to arrest the spread now. Death is stalking us and some tough love is needed to preserve lives.
There have been reports, however, of brutality on citizens by members of the armed forces which are, indeed, regrettable, but the ultimate goal is to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Some security agents reportedly brutalised people who were in their yards and set dogs on them. This is undeserved and uncalled for.
But let’s put it in minds that COVID-19 is not a joke and those who want to take it as a joke should know that they are playing with fire and endangering others.
Stay home, stay safe and it shall be well.