Main News Zimbabwe

Lockdown hits exam classes

BY MOSES MATENGA

THOUSANDS of students writing Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council “O” and “A” Level examinations were yesterday caught in the crossfire due to the absence of clear-cut directives which resulted in them turned back or delayed by police as the 30-day COVID-19-induced lockdown came into effect.

Police restricted human and vehicular movements into city centres, leading to long queues that inconvenienced those in the essential services, and examination students were not spared.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Toungana Ndoro confirmed the unfortunate development, adding that  all affected students were allowed to sit for their examinations.

“There were a bit of challenges, but we did not have any case of a student or learner who was willing to write exams who failed to write the examination,” Ndoro said.

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Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the development, saying the issue had been resolved.

“We have noted that as traffic was being screened, some parents with pupils were delayed. Some alerted the police and were allowed to go,” he said.

“We appeal to parents to make advance arrangements with the local police. Parents who raised alarms were assisted.”

In a statement last night, acting Information minister Jenfan Muswere said invigilators and students should be allowed free passage at police checkpoints.

Teacher unions yesterday said although the students were later allowed to write the examinations, they were psychologically affected by the delay, which would obviously affect their performance.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said the affected students were subjected to psychological trauma and accused government of being short-sighted in planning for the welfare of the examination classes.

“There were cases of pupils being delayed for examinations at the roadblocks,” Zhou said.

“Some arrived late, but the good thing is they were allowed to write. It should be noted that the pupils were exposed to psychological trauma.

“There is short-sightedness in the way the government plans its things. Government was supposed to provide dedicated buses that carry pupils, especially in urban centres. The problem was national.”

Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu also confirmed receiving reports of pupils arriving late for examinations due to the roadblocks.

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“The good thing is that they were allowed time to finish the examination, but there was obviously a panic response from the pupils. There should be designated buses to take pupils and teachers to examination centres,” Ndlovu said.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual in the country’s most high-density suburbs in the country’s towns and cities, with only strict enforcement on people going into city centres as Zimbabwe went into day one of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana admitted that the majority of people in urban centres ignored the lockdown restrictions.

“There was a compliance problem with level 4 lockdown today. Too many shops were open. For clarity purposes, outlets allowed to trade and, that’s from 8am to 3pm, are supermarkets, food outlets — no sitting in, hotel bars and restaurants to serve in-staying guests only,” Mangwana tweeted.

While police officers were alert at all points leading into the city centre in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo and other cities, people continued roaming around in the suburbs with others not observing set COVID-19 prevention measures, including proper wearing of face masks.

Beerhalls and bottlestores in most suburbs were “officially” closed, but continued operating clandestinely against lockdown guidelines.

In Glen View high-density suburb in Harare, it was business as usual as residents went about their normal daily routines.

Police in Bulawayo said residents complied with the lockdown regulations, though some residents who spoke to NewsDay complained about alleged police brutality starting Monday evening.

Pumula resident Thubelihle Moyo said he was assaulted by police officers on Monday evening while queueing for transport back home.

Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said: “Although we do not have statistics for the total number of people arrested for defying lockdown regulations, there is a bit of compliance.”

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He, however, bemoaned congestion at some financial institutions, where hundreds of people spent the better part of the day in queues to access money.

There was confusion in Gweru in the morning as police officers manning roadblocks were not clear on the letters people had to produce.

In Chiredzi, residents complied with the lockdown regulations with most of the shops closed and the town almost deserted.

There was no enforcement in Marondera as people went about their businesses.

In Magunje, Mashonaland West province, it was business as usual, with people moving around without face masks and there were no law enforcement agents by midday.

Later in the day, police swooped on money changers and street vendors at Tsotsi business complex.

Additional reporting by Moses Mugugunyeki/Vanessa Gonye/Jairos Saunyama/Garikai Mafirakureva/Stephen Chadenga/Nhau Mangirazi/Nizbert Moyo/Praisemore Sithole

 

NEWSDAY