By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Former finance minister Tendai Biti has castigated President Emmerson Mnangagwa for “unwisely” imposing a lockdown without giving workers and businesses time to organise adding that this has made his government broke and pressured to reopen.
Mnangagwa has extended Zimbabwe’s lockdown by a further two weeks and made little modifications just to allow limited mining and manufacturing activities to resume.
On his microblogging Twitter handle, the MDC Alliance Vice President said Mnangagwa’s government was under pressure to end the coronavirus lockdown as it had run out of money.
“The regime unwisely imposed a lockdown from March 30 without giving workers and business time to organise. Most businesses did not pay statutory obligations like PAYE, VAT, QPD and NSSA on March 31. Regime is now broke. Treasury is empty. They can’t wait to reopen,” he tweeted.
Biti had predicted the two week extension of a lockdown in Zimbabwe and urged the authorities to “base all decisions on data, science, experts and the experience of other countries.”
“We urge provision of adequate notice to allow workers to stock-up and businesses to adjust. We urge authorities to carry out extensive decentralised testing during the extension period.
“We urge compliance with High Court orders on protective personal equipment, isolation centres and the rule of law. We urge provision of safety nets particularly water, food and cash hand-outs. We urge transparency and full disclosure,” Biti added.
Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced six conditions for ending lockdowns.
1. Disease transmission is under control
2. Health systems are able to “detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact”
3. Hot spot risks are minimized in vulnerable places, such as nursing homes
4. Schools, workplaces and other essential places have established preventive measures
5. The risk of importing new cases “can be managed”
6. Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to live under a new normal.
Mnangagwa initially announced a 21-day lockdown beginning on March 30. The country has recorded 24 confirmed cases of coronavirus with three deaths and two recoveries.
Not everyone is happy with the lockdown with many critics saying it leaves the poor more vulnerable to hunger and safety nets should have been put in place before the lockdown.