New lockdown rules lack clarity

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Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday announced the extension of the national lockdown by another 14 days
and at the same time relaxed the conditions saying the country was now on level 2 of the measures.

NewsDay Comment

He announced the reopening of the formal economy starting today, while the informal trade remains shut and on Saturday, Information ministry permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said people reporting for work no longer needed exemption letters, but only face masks.

While the measures to reopen the troubled industry are welcome, it is the lack of clarity on how the measures will be implemented and enforced that is of major concern.

Firstly, how will authorities determine who is going to work or not and how will the police enforcing the lockdown measures address the same question? How will authorities differentiate between those formally employed and jay walkers?

If the police are left to administratively determine who will pass the checkpoints to go to work, according to Mangwana’s rather hazy policy interpretation, won’t we have situations where some genuine employees will be turned back?

The announcement was too vague and difficult to implement. In short, it shows a man at crossroads, who just throws a statement to gauge public reaction before fine-tuning his idea.

Mnangagwa has all but allowed free movement, but restricted public transport to only Zupco buses, which will not cope with the anticipated increased demand – thus causing queues and eventually achieving the opposite of his intentions.

If Zupco buses were struggling to meet demand during a fullblown lockdown, how will they be able to transport workers on time to and from work with all businesses running?

Others can use their own cars; yes, that is if Mnangagwa has taken advantage of the lockdown to replenish the service stations with fuel at a time the commodity was not in demand.

The President should consult various experts when coming up with measures of huge importance like this, otherwise the five weeks people are expected to spend under lockdown would be a waste of time.