AS Zimbabwe begins the countdown towards the possible end of its extended lockdown, fellow countrymen wait with bated breath to hear President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s strategy towards addressing the socio-economic shocks caused on the citizenry by the pandemic.
It’s common cause that the pandemic and the resultant lockdowns which started in March last year have had far-reaching effects on all spheres of life.
With most businesses shut down and social service providers operating at zero or limited capacity, everyone now looks up to government to give them a head start.
Companies have either closed or downsized, jobs have been lost and livelihoods disrupted during the lockdowns that first came into effect early last year.
In all this, Mnangagwa has emphasised a “prevention is better than cure” strategy to save lives. While the approach was noble, his administration fell far short in terms of cushioning the public against the economic and social shocks posed by the pandemic.
Other governments the world over, came up with tangible social safety nets to sustain the socio-economic needs of citizens whose lives were turned upside-down by the pandemic.
The so-called cushioning allowances announced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube when the country went on lockdown last year was, for want of a better phrase, a drop in the ocean.
Given that ours is now a highly informalised economy, it goes without saying that government has to dig deeper into its coffers and come up with better packages to help jumpstart people’s lives after almost a year of COVID-19-induced inactivity.
As there is nothing called free lunch, governement can still recover its monies through various taxes.
But who cares after families have survived the pandemic, industry has been jumpstarted and workers retained their jobs.
Mnangagwa and his government have to, with urgency, announce a post-COVID-19 recovery strategy to, not only save the comatose economy, but rebuild livelihoods.
Clerics under the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) have already set the ball rolling by calling for a national dialogue with various stakeholders to come up with a post-COVID-19 recovery strategy.
The ball is now in Mnangagwa’s court to facilitate the process or provide the platform so that no one is left behind when the country rolls back to normalcy.