Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Government will continue to review its actions to contain Covid-19 after the lockdown and adjust on time where necessary, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
He acknowledged that there was an economic and social impact that had to be considered.
Speaking after touring many high-density suburbs in Harare and Chitungwiza to see for himself what was happening, he said Government was alive to the economic and social implications of the lockdown, but he would not prejudge that decision.
“I would not want to prejudge our decision. At the end of the 21 days, we are going to review our decision; if we think that it is containable we may go back because it has its economic impact,” he said.
“We have to weigh the possibilities of relaxing or continuing at the end of the 21 days. I cannot say now what is going to happen after, but what I can say is that currently I am happy with the way people have responded. You know we declared a lockdown.
“This is the first time that this country is going through a lockdown, so I felt it was important for me to go around and see how people are taking this measure to be kept at home.”
President Mnangagwa’s tour started in Mabvuku and Tafara. He then proceeded to Kuwadzana before moving to New Marimba, Mufakose, Glen View, Budiriro, Highfield, Glen Norah and Chitungwiza.
The President, who is leading from the front in efforts to control the epidemic, did not leave his vehicle because of the need to maintain social distance and did not address anyone in the residential areas.
The tour revealed that many people were taking heed of the lockdown.
Most market stalls were unoccupied and people fetching water from community boreholes did so in an orderly manner, maintaining social distance, with police and municipal police helping to keep order at the boreholes.
President Mnangagwa commended the people for their discipline.
“We have been to Mabvuku, Tafara, Kuwadzana, Glen View, Budiriro, Highfield, Chitungwiza and so on; I am so amazed by the discipline our people have. Right through, people were in their homes. Those who were out, like in Mabvuku where I saw some people fetching water but with total discipline, were well organised. I am so happy and I think that people actually appreciate the reason why the Government has imposed this lockdown.
“I really appreciate that they heeded the call by Government to keep the social distance.”
Unlike in other countries where the police had to apply force to enforce lockdown compliance, President Mnangagwa applauded Zimbabweans for exercising self-discipline.
“In some other countries, police beat up people for them to disperse and I admire and praise our people for the discipline. For the three hours we drove around, I saw very few policemen but people are complying, which is good and I praise our people for the discipline they have shown.
“This is also my first lockdown experience and I wanted a direct experience by going around seeing how our people are reacting to the lockdown and what I saw is amazing. I think if this discipline is kept, I am hopeful it will mitigate against the spread of the pandemic.”
Analysts praised President Mnangagwa for touring the high density areas to check for himself on the levels of lockdown compliance.
Midlands State University (MSU) lecturer Professor Nhamo Mhiripiri said: “It is a good thing that the President did. He is being a father figure who is trying to find out how all his children are.”
However, he urged the President to consider extending the tour to rural areas, which might still be unaware of the dangers posed by Covid-19.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Wellington Gadzikwa said: “It is good that the President toured the high density areas. This is important as the country confronts the deadly coronavirus.
“It is good for the President to be on ground to see for himself so that any future decisions depend on what he would have seen for himself.”
Dr Gadzikwa said he was happy that citizens were demonstrating awareness of the dangers posed by Covid-19 especially considering the levels of infection and deaths in Europe and the United States, which have advanced health systems.