By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
Main opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has rebuked the Zanu PF led government over introducing Covid-19 regulations that favor the elites more than the poor and frontline health workers.
Zimbabwe through Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also health minister extended a nationwide curfew, banned gatherings and ordered non-essential businesses closed for a month on Saturday in an effort to curb a surge in coronavirus infections.
Chiwenga said some of the tighter restrictions were effective immediately and included a 6pm to 6am curfew and a ban on inter-city travel. From Tuesday, non-essential businesses would also be suspended, he said.
Chamisa, however, accused the government of failing to provide safety nets to the more than 80% Zimbabweans affected by the Covid-19 related lockdown.
He also asked for the criteria government use when closing landports while keeping open airports. Chamisa said, “it appears elitist as air travel is limited to a few with means while the majority who use road transport are locked in.”
“Sound public policy requires broad consultation of stakeholders. It must be scientific and for this reason it ought to be evidence-based. The latest lockdown measures lack scientific rigour, rationality and consistency. We would have preferred more inclusive consultation of business, labour, church and political leadership.
“The application of rules must be fair and non-selective because the virus does not select on the basis of status, class or political affiliation. Rules are effective not only when they apply to others, but when applied to those who make them
“The latest rules do not deal with the complementary measures that are necessary to support communities during lockdown. If people must stay at home, they need support because they cannot fend for themselves. Commanding the closure of the economy without the necessary supporting economic reliefs, medical and social measures is suicidal.
“They forget that 80% of our economy is informal which means a lockdown without a complementary support system will lose traction. Faced with starvation, people will be forced to breach lockdown rules, posing more risk to themselves and others.
“For this reason, there ought to be an economic and social safety net to support people during lockdown. Simply announcing rules to keep people at home without more is a command style rulership which shows total disregard to people’s interests,” Chamisa said.
Chamisa added that the new measures failed to address the plight of healthcare staff on the frontline.
“Healthcare workers without PPE are like sending soldiers to the front without guns and ammunition. It’s cruel and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“There is a clear pattern emerging in the way rules are crafted and enforced. The principal targets are the poor people while the wealthy are allowed a free pass. Breaches committed in Borrowdale by elites must be met with the same force as breaches in Mbare by ghetto youths.
“What, for example, is the rationale for closing landports while keeping open airports? It appears elitist as air travel is limited to a few with means while the majority who use road transport are locked in.
“The closure of borders also locks in hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who work and support families and the country in neighbouring countries. Their remittances are a major source of income but they are now locked in.
“We don’t just have a health crisis here but a governance and leadership crisis. We have provinces, even districts and we have hotspots and epicenters.
“Why don’t we have isolation and isolated lockdowns for hot spots,where we identify red zones than to lock the whole nation,” the outspoken opposition leader said. Nehanda Radio