By Moeketsi Kaitse
As the country begins the 21 days of lockdown as a means to curb the spread of the corona virus pandemic, small enterprises/business owners are sobbing profusely due to purported revenue loss.
Zimbabwe,already reeling from decades long economic decay and with about 90% of the population unemployed,the virus curfew will hit hard the self employed and they will feel a heavy pinch in the next three weeks and beyond,should more stern measures be put in place depending on the situation then.
A tour of the Renkini Long distance terminus in Makokoba gave an insight as to what most of the ware sellers,vendors,push cart operators, bus operators among others think of the shutdown with most viewing it as detrimental to their endeavours
A bus conductor who identified himself as Jackson asked what measures are in place to ensure they feed families: “The forex rates are volatile, l budget on a daily basis and a day’s earnings is what gives my family food for the next day,so what will happen since as public transporters we have been told to stay at home without a raft of measures to ensure we put food on the table” he said,with his views echoed by one Meli who rhetorically asked “kanti endlini kuhlalwa njani vele?, I have never experienced that life.”
The general feeling is that of paranoia, anxiety, fear, delusion and a sense of helplessness as it dawns that a historic moment has come.
In as much as the issue of daily bread is paramount, health is ever important so as to live to fight another day.
To many, it is coming as a shock, owing to limited credible information on the matter.A ‘scania’ pusher, looking drained by the impending lockdown said: “I get my money through carrying luggage for people, since there wont be any customer l feel lost. At home l do not own a stove, l eat at the ‘caravan’ and they will be closed so what will l eat. We now ask for God’s hand.”
Women said they will suffer the brunt even more. A young lady in her mid 20s said danger was always looming since every day she boards a bus to and from Pumula crammed with many other commuters and pleads to government to help the poor with sanitizers,masks and the likes.
“As mothers it is difficult to watch your children suffer.The freezits and Maputi I sell feed my two kids,” she said.
Another lady said she embraced the government move .
“As long as it will help stop the spread of the disease it is okay,we will try to see how we survive since our survival has always been a struggle” she said,with hopelessness written all over her aging face.
One gogo MaSithole from Bellevue hit a different shaped nail showing no support for the stay at home directive.
” No one can stop a disease by staying at home. Let the people continue with their daily businesses, some will catch it and the unfortunate depart from this earth, some will be lucky and survive that is life.We have many people who have illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, BP, HIV and are alive, some died, that is life.The 1918 Spanish influenza did not claim every life,my grandfather survived” she quipped with some bravery.
By all means it is going to be a depressing 21 days, but there is no other choice in place.
China has had a tremendous turn around in the situation due to an imposed lockdown.
If it has worked somewhere, it will record results here. Ofcourse, measures should have been put in place to take care of the vulnerable, however the economy is not favourable enough hence a need to make sure the disease does not compound to an already callous situation. The now traditional line will always ring ‘Prevention is better than cure’