While Zimbabwe adopted appropriate lockdown, banning of gathering and respect of social distance in its response to COVID 19 pandemics, it is clear there has not been any coherent planning, let alone interoperability of various government departments to ensure success.
Fundamentally, the lockdown was abruptly adopted without planning for provision of basic commodities to citizens and provision of adequate training and equipment to frontline defenders against the pandemic.
Not surprisingly there is a serious shortage of protective clothing for health workers who had to approach the courts for provision of such basic needs.
Worse still there are inadequate testing kits with all rural areas virtually remaining outside the orbit of testing. Above all, only less than 500 people have been tested in a country with more than 14 million people.
Social distance and quarantine have not been observed constantly, as some national leaders addressed gatherings and intermingled with other people on the very day they arrived from abroad.
Shops were caught unawares as well as citizens making it very difficult to observe lockdown. The general shortage of basic commodities has ensured that people are always gathering looking for mealie-meal, sugar, cooking oil etc.
The government has dismally failed to provide food, money and water thereby making it difficult to observe the lockdown.
Not surprisingly, the government has resorted to brutality by soldiers and police to enforce compliance with the lockdown.
Such soldiers and police have also resorted to non-compliance to social distancing in their enforcement of lockdown.
The so-called National Task Force has virtually nothing in it except its name. It cannot offer simple things like soap, let alone sanitizers.
There is no clear media strategy and medical outreach to raise awareness particularly in rural areas where many people continue to smoke and share a single cigarette, let alone drink beer from a single container.
Indeed the government has continued to be far detached from the generality of the populace, let alone fail to see the situation from the general populace’s point of view.
Decisions are made abruptly and abandoned at the spar of the moment without serious consideration of their effects. This has been the case over banning of beer selling and informal markets.
Whatever the case may be, it is clear that there is need for serious planning, consistent policy formulation and implementation, interoperability of various government department responses and extension of the lockdown period if Zimbabwe is to carefully avoid the tragedy that may befall it through the premature lifting of lockdown.
There is a need for more equipment to test a sizeable number of the general populace and be certain that the nation is out of danger from the pandemic before making any suicidal decision like lifting the lockdown.
Takavafira M. Zhou (PTUZ President)
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