Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the lockdown with a further two weeks at the expiry of the twenty one days on Sunday.
An anxiety stricken nation was at the end of the speech, with much of the restlessness emanating from the big questions unanswered in the first edition of the lockdown.
What rings in every mind is what will the next day bring, where will the next meal come from? What will happen to the threats ahead, if the ravaging Corona virus spreads like fire in the country.
Bulawayo, the forgotten city that has been hard hit in recent days still is not convinced there is a solution in sight. The city and the Matabeleland region were and have always been reeling from years of economic mismanagement and complete neglect by successive regimes. The first testing kit for Covid 19 landed in Bulawayo 2 weeks into the first phase of the lockdown, four months after the first case broke out in China.
President Mnangagwa said the social welfare department will take care of the poor and vulnerable, while he said mining activities should continue and he will be visiting communities to check on their well-being.
To the Matabeleland dwellers that is just but baffling. Who is not poor and vulnerable in the region? After years of economic and political injustice from the Government, to people of the region, the President’s promise is taken with a pinch of salt.
A Nketa resident Juluka Mthombeni bemoaned government’s lack of commitment in matters that are of life and death: “I am a commuter omnibus conductor. I get paid when I work, my family have been starving for 3 weeks and now it will be 5 weeks. Hunger will kill us more than Corona. There should have been a plan in place.”
His sentiments were echoed by various social media users who said government should be sincere and even consider millions who are outside the country. “I corona siyayibona. There is need to be protected from the pandemic, equally there is need to be protected from starvation and need to pay rentals” wrote Mthwakazian on facebook.
Former Cabinet Minister David Coltart wrote on microblogging site, “I support the decision taken by government to extend the lockdown. This time must be used to 1.Get our hospitals prepared 2.Test 3.Get food to the poor 4.Produce and distribute masks & sanitisers 5.Educate, not beat up people about social distancing.” That is a very sane opinion shared by many. There has not been much activity to that effect. Everyone is poor and need food which was needed even before the outbreak.
There have been running around to have Joshua Nkomo’s hospital Ekusileni working twenty one years after he died. One Na Brian asked this writer “If lockdown ends, the virus would have ended?” .This shows there has not been much education pertaining Covid 19.
In as much, the decision taken ‘reluctantly’ was the right call. Staying away is the best since the country has no capacity to halt the virus if cases rise rapidly, more so in this informal market, food shortages, dead currency and water shortages. The little hope is that there is a plan.
The last update by the Ministry of Health saw Bulawayo cases rising to ten, most of which emanated from the Hylop (now late) case. Matabeleland South and North combined have one case, but still there have not been any testing taking place.
Let us Stay home and stay safe