ZIMBABWE: It is a dilemma for the majority of Zimbabwe to choose between starve at home or adhere to the COVID-19 regulations.
The country has been under another strict 30-day lockdown from January 5 and restricts movement, gathering, and overcrowding of people among others.
Lockdown stipulations allow only essential services to operate while other formal and informal businesses have been suspended
Addressing the country early this month, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who is also the Minister of Health stated that, “Only essential services like hospitals, pharmacies, and supermarkets to remain open with only essential staff allowed to come to work from 8 am to 3 pm.
“People must stay at home save for groceries and medicine purchase and transporting sick relatives”.
lnformal sector, the main employer
However, with the country’s economic situation many people had nothing to save since they live on hand-to-mouth while the informal sector is the main employer.
According to ZimStat, 42% of those employed in the informal sector are in retail and trade. Due to lockdown restrictions, they are unable to reach the market to hoard staff.
28 years Tarisai Hwema is a single mother who stays in Epworth one of the high-density suburbs in Harare.
The mother of 3, relies on vending as a source of income, ” The situation is unbearable, because we have been banned to operate and we are not being issued travelling documents”, she said.
Her weekly consumption cost US$10 which many vendors acquire after two to three days of selling.
Lockdown was announced in a time when people are normally broke due to Christmas and New Year spendings.
Unpreparedness of Citizens
The majority were not prepared and no cushions have been promised for the citizens.
Economist Eddie Cross said the pandemic does not warrant this extreme measure and it will retard the country’s recovery.
He also said the government has failed to recognise the economic challenges that the citizens are facing
“The majority of our economy is informalised and they are the most affected by the lock down.
“We cannot treat the poor for COVID-19 and our only tenable policy is to tell people to take care and treat any infection at home”, he said.
Zimbabwe was one of the countries with low COVID-19 cases, but the pandemic took its toll early this month.
Statistics on COVID-19
The number of new cases has almost doubled in two months from 8 374 on 1 November to the current 14 084, according to a statement by the Acting Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Jenfan Muswere.
For daily updates Department of Civil Protection inform citizens through the country’s main telecommunications service provider Econet. On January 12, 551 deaths were recorded.
Citizens failure to adhere to the lockdown restrictions
Despite the situation, citizens in the informal are resilient to remain in the streets and other working places to put food at the table. Citizens are failing to adhere to the restrictions.
To worsen the situation, some high-density suburbs have few supermarkets and people gather in their numbers to buy basic needs.
In hospitals, understaffing of health workers leads to incompliance to lockdown regulations as people also overcrowded.