Ex-ZIPRA liberation war soldiers have urged security agencies not to intimidate or harass citizens when enforcing the Covid-19 related lockdown that was announced on Saturday.
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. He said from Tuesday, non-essential businesses would also be suspended.
During previous lockdown regimes last year, soldiers and police officers have been accused of violating citizens’ rights.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com on Tuesday, ZIPRA Veterans Association deputy secretary general Job Ndlovu pleaded with the government to exercise restraint when dealing with citizens.
He also questioned the logic behind the deployment of armed soldiers while enforcing Covid-19 regulations.
“We are appealing to the government through Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri and Commander Defence Forces Philip Valerio Sibanda to make sure that citizens are not harassed by the security forces.
“The security sector is there to protect the citizens of this country. They are not there to abuse and threaten people.
“People are afraid to see heavily armed soldiers wielding AKs in the streets,” he said.
Ndlovu castigated President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration for introducing lockdown without providing social safety nets for the vulnerable in Zimbabwe.
“People should be more afraid of Covid-19 than soldiers who are peacekeepers.
“Zimbabwe is a democratic country where people should not be afraid of their army.
“We applaud the government for introducing the lockdown measures to curb the spreading of Covid-19, but we are very concerned that the government has not announced anything on the issue of social welfare on those people whose income is going to be affected by the lockdown.
“It was better if the government was going to provide food hampers to the people like what is happening in other countries.
“People are coming from the holiday and they do not have any money,” he added.
Acting President Kembo Mohadi on Sunday warned the public against breaching Covid-19 regulations citing that the security agencies would ‘continue to enforce stricter Standard Operation Procedures to ensure the safety of all citizens.’