NEARLY every citizen is anxiously awaiting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s next move after he hinted that there was a possibility of extending the lockdown beyond this Sunday to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, saying his priority was to save lives.
Should government adopt that approach, it will likely disappoint a lot of self-employed people who have not been able to generate any income over the past five weeks due to the lockdown, but whose financial obligations have continued to balloon.
One feels for Mnangagwa, especially with pressure from business that a continued lockdown would sink the country’s fragile economy, while on the other hand cases of new COVID-19 infections in the country continue to increase, reaching a new high of 40 on Wednesday.
Also, Zanu PF stalwarts have been pressuring him to lift the lockdown as the continued restrictions may implode and cost the ruling party in the 2023 polls.
The question becomes: Do we die of hunger or we die of COVID-19? Indeed, one would not envy the decision maker in such circumstances.
While it has been largely accepted that an extended lockdown would hurt the faltering economy, the major question becomes: Do we err on the side of caution or of carelessness?
Whatever decision is going to be made — or announced — must, indeed, the President must strike a fine balancing act to ensure economic activity on the one hand and the safety of the population on the other.
But this speaks to the need for tightening the testing, quarantining and treatment of COVID-19 because lifting the lockdown while there is no certainty about who is infected and who is not will explode in our face. These are the sensitivities that must be taken into consideration.
Of course, one is tempted to agree with the President that while the economy may be resuscitated in future, once people die of COVID-19, they are gone and gone for good.
This is just how delicate the situation is. An option too ghastly to contemplate is that of lifting the lockdown and let fate take its course while we hope for the best.
Life is sacrosanct and government has to do everything in its capacity to preserve it, even if it means momentarily sacrificing the economy.