THE Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) rejects the knee-jerk, irrational and unscientific imposition of adjusted national lockdown regulations under Statutory Instrument 267 of 2021. This follows the recent discovery of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa and Botswana.
As part of the measures, a daily curfew was imposed from 9pm to 6am, while shops were directed to open for business from 7am and close by 7pm.
The regulations also require all returning residents and visitors to undergo PCR testing and those found to be negative will be quarantined at their own cost for 10 days, while those who are found positive will be isolated in accordance with the provisions of the principal order.
These regulations are the clearest yet sign that government is using the cover the COVID-19 pandemic to push an ulterior agenda which we strongly believe to be centred on its quest to stifle free and legitimate operations of citizens trying to recover from the effects of the same pandemic on their livelihoods.
The latest regulations were initially announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 30, 2021 ostensibly to avert threats of a fourth wave in Zimbabwe.
While we appreciate government’s efforts at containing the pandemic as prescribed in the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on handling the new Omicron variant, we are concerned that the new measures are disproportionate to our situation as a country and seem not based on any scientific logic.
The latest WHO recommendations on the new variant encourage authorities to enhance surveillance and genomic sequencing efforts and urge them to continue reminding communities and individuals to continue adhering to the “tried and tested” protocols already in use.
The latest regulations are surprising given that the government’s post-cabinet briefings of November 16 and 30, 2021 assured the nation that the COVID-19 pandemic was “under control” in the country following several days with few or no reported deaths and few new infections.
The Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights is in agreement with government’s assessment based on the fact that the national positive rate in the last three to four weeks has been less than 2,5%.
WHO ratings project that a positive rate of more than 5% signifies a pandemic out of control and anything below 5% is a well-controlled pandemic.
Ironically, WHO and health experts are reportedly convinced that the new strain is “super mild” and has, so far, not led to a surge in COVID-19 death rates anywhere in southern Africa, urging countries to drop travel restrictions and end the mass hysteria associated with the new Omicron variant.
Additionally, Zimbabwe has been singled out as one of the few African countries that has implemented a successful COVID-19 response strategy that has been applauded by the WHO.
Given the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy as well as the livelihoods of many of our citizens, the latest measures are surprising as they peg back the nation from realising a quick recovery to the pandemic-induced economic backslide.
Unemployment in Zimbabwe is estimated at over 90%, with many citizens relying on the informal economy to sustain their livelihoods. It is these citizens who will face the brunt of these unjustified regulations.
The limiting of operating times for business will affect actors in both the formal and informal economic sectors, which will inevitably peg back any economic recovery efforts.
We would have expected the government to be concentrating on ramping up its vaccination drive, which has gradually stalled and is way behind projected targets.
Getting herd immunity through vaccination has been identified as one of the quickest ways of ensuring full opening up of the economy so that citizens can return to their normal life routines and secure their livelihoods.
We are worried that enforcement of COVID-19 regulations has often been used as cover for gross rights violations with the army and police brutalising citizens for violating the regulations.
Since March 2020, it has become quite apparent that COVID-19 regulations in Zimbabwe have been used to entrench authoritarian rule and violate citizens’ fundamental rights through the imposition of restrictions without proper any justified scientific basis. -CiZC
Parly must craft national disability policy
VENDORS Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation today commemorates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities under the theme Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Toward an Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World.
This year’s event comes on the backdrop of continued vulnerability for this sector of our population owing to the ravages of COVID-19 with no support from Government and its agencies.
Not only have our members been deprived of support, but containment measures such as vaccination and associated publicity campaigns, people with disabilities have been left out, yet sign language is recognised as part of the country’s 16 official languages.
According to a Unesco Rapid Assessment report of November 2020, on the effects of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities asserted that the majority of persons with disabilities (PWDs) survive on informal sector activities such as vending and begging on the streets.
People with disabilities faced significant difficulties to access support from government, non-governmental organisations and private individuals owing to travel restrictions imposed by the government during the lockdown period.
Mary Mushayi, a PWD in a report of December 2020, said when borders are closed, relatives cannot send groceries to them and they are unable to move around to collect parcels owing to transport challenges compounded by the ban on commuter omnibuses.
For Viset, this sector is a critical component of the informal economy as many persons with disabilities derive their living from the sector due to the fact that there are less barriers to entry as many of them are deprived of formal education.
A walk in the central business district will confirm this assertion, yet government and local authorities have no plan to ensure this constituency is accommodated in accessible buildings and facilities such as public toilets and transport.
Viset calls for the enactment into an act of Parliament the National Disability Policy that was launched by the President in June 2021.
We also call upon all policing authorities to be trained in communication and interaction of persons with disabilities and cessation of the heavy handedness that is applied to the sector in raids. -Viset
IN response to Omicron hits Zimbabwe, THANDIZINTO says: Zimbabweans have to be vigilant in fighting the new COVID-19 variant, as well as other variants to come. I am slowly getting inclined towards thinking that COVID-19 is some kind of biological warfare.
IN response to No US$ bonus for nurses, NDABANENGI says: Government is not being fair. It should treat all its employees in an equal manner. Every one of its employees plays an integral role in the day-to-day running of government business. The authorities are feigning confusion, yet I believe this was a calculated move. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is playing games with the people. In actual fact, why should we keep such people in power? They should be kicked out come 2023 elections.
IN response to Exams invigilation: Govt reads riot act, PIKIRAYI says: The education sector is in a state of decay, and government is not doing anything to correct the anomaly. In fact, the authorities are pretending as if everything is normal. I believe they are telling themselves that the next leaders will fix this mess. The funny thing is that now I am 33 years old, the same people who are leaders now were leaders when I was born, and they were telling us that we were the future leaders. Surprisingly, they are still in power and messing up the country.
IN response to Zec bemoans paltry budgetary allocation, MAKHELWANE says: Whether it gets more money or not to run elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) does not have the capacity to produce credible election results. It is an extension of the Zanu PF regime. Zec failed to proclaim by-elections date and abrogated its duty to the Health ministry. What I know is that when Zanu PF wants things done, it will fund the electoral management body and everything will be all systems go. Zanu PF knows that even if some mogul funds Zec, no one will be able to question the funding since already everyone knows a budget was set aside, and also that no one will be able to get into Zec’s books to see where the money came from and how it was used.
IN response to BCC rakes in $455k in fines, MHONDIWA says: I like Bulawayo City Council’s way of doing things. Its councillors are somehow transparent, despite that many times Zanu PF throws spanners into their works.