Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Mzembi party slams lack of ‘supporting measures’ around lockdown

By Staff Reporter

The People’s Party led by former Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi has welcomed the lockdown that comes into effect on Monday but has slammed the lack of ‘supporting measures’.

Walter Mzembi
Walter Mzembi

In a statement sent to Nehanda Radio, the party said the lockdown announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday “is a necessary step in containing the coronavirus outbreak”.

“However, the proposal in its current state is poorly considered as the supporting measures around it are inadequate. The government cannot just copy and paste policy from South Africa without taking into account our peculiar and troubled circumstances,” the party said.

“In particular, our economy is informal and most informal traders live from hand to mouth on a daily basis, buying food from their earnings at the end of the day.

“It is irresponsible of government to simply lock these people indoors without providing a solution for their upkeep during such a prolonged period of economic inactivity,’ the People’s Party argued.

“There is already a humanitarian food-aid campaign being led by the World Food Programme in the country; government must work with the WFP to include the bulk of the urban population which is especially vulnerable.

“Given the limited logistics capacity as well as the risk of corruption, the ideal intervention would be a crediting of all distressed mobile money accounts with the market equivalent of US$5 per person with parents able to register their children using birth certificate numbers, via the USSD menus provided by the mobile money services.

“This amount of money would hardly be enough, and the authorities should go further by suspending VAT and the 2% Intermediated Money Transfer Tax which would immediately increase the buying power of the public.

“In addition, all financial obligations falling within or immediately after the lockdown period should be delayed by a period of at least 30 days.

“This will include utility bill payments, rentals, taxes and any such obligation.

“In the case of rentals, landlords must be allowed to apply for tax credits against defaults arising from the lockdown period if such a default persists past 45 days.

“Finally, we urge the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to conduct their enforcement operations with restraint and respect for human rights,” the People’s Party added.

In announcing the lockdown on Friday Mnangagwa said;

“In light of shutdowns around the world, government will galvanise local industry and colleges to produce what we can locally; this includes the manufacture of sanitisers, personal protective equipment, and medicines,” he said. 

As part of the restrictive measures, all public transport will be grounded, save for the state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) and government workers’ buses, who will observe social distancing and sanitation practices. Nehanda Radio