Opinion & Columnist

COVID-19: Punish defiant vendors

editorial comment

DESPITE clear evidence that Zimbabwe has slipped into a serious health crisis, the rate at which people in the informal sector are taking the pandemic lightly is not only shocking but is of serious concern.

The COVID-19 scourge has been tearing communities apart, with over 700 people dying and 27 200 positive cases reported as of Sunday since it started.

We must make it clear that the majority of these cases have been recorded in the past two months after government displayed shocking levels of ineptitude when it reopened schools late last year and borders during the festive season.

In the past week, we have watched businesses at the Siyaso and Magaba informal markets defying the lockdown regulations to resume trading, even as confirmed cases spiralled out of control.

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We are not against the development of the informal sector in Zimbabwe.

We also understand that after their business and employment prospects were crushed during 40 years of disastrous rule by Zanu PF, our citizens turned to the informal sector for livelihoods.

But we are extremely concerned that informal traders are defying scientifically proven methods of combating COVID-19 — adhering to prescribed social distancing requirements, wearing face masks and cleaning our hands to keep the virus at bay.

These are extremely important procedures that have been proven to save lives the world over.

Where these procedures have not been followed, the number of deaths has been frightening.

We must not allow our country to decelerate into a global hotspot for COVID-19 because the consequences are dire.

Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has been in a dysfunctional state for decades because as a pariah State, quasi-autocracy, very few advanced economies are willing to assist or even associate with us.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed, and private funeral parlours are beginning to feel the heat.

Those who are being infected now have nowhere to go for special care.

They will die at home.

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Instead of moving across suburbs enlightening people on how they must behave, the entire police force is concentrated at roadblocks to prevent people from entering city centres.

What happens to the delinquents that have no business to conduct in central business districts, but spend entire days spreading the virus in communities?

Government must wake up and smell the coffee, it’s not time for a nap.

It is time to act and enforce the lockdown regulations in the communities.

We call upon our people to end the indiscipline that we have witnessed in the past week and save themselves.

They must not wait for someone to force them to stay at home.

After all, it is the right thing to do.

NEWSDAY