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Open churches, decongest prisons: Chamisa advice on Covid-19 fight

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

Opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa says there is a need to decongest prisons as well as opening churches, “for a controlled number of people provided there is social distancing and masking”, as the country fights against the deadly coronavirus disease.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa during a visit to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa during a visit to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison

Chamisa said this during a national address where he talked more about how to contain the spread of Covid-19. Zimbabwe is on a national lockdown that was extended to February 15.

Churches meanwhile have been considered non-essential whereas Chamisa believes divine intervention was needed to fight Covid-19 hence there was need for the reopening of Churches.

“We must allow churches to open for a controlled number of people provided there is social distancing, masking and other Covid-19 protocols.

“To our bishops, pastors, the church body, intercessors and believers, we encourage you to continue to stand in the gap to pray for our nation,” he said.

“We must stand in prayer with those who have been affected by the pandemic. May the Holy Spirit comfort all the families who lost their loved ones.”

Chamisa added that there was a need to decongest prisons following reports that 72 inmates last week contracted Covid-19 at Mutimurefu Prison in Masvingo.

“Our prisons have become Covid-19 super spreaders, hot spots and zones. We need a plan to decongest them or put in place strict regimes of testing, screening, isolation and regular disinfecting.

“We must empty remand prisons except for very, very serious offences, and give amnesty to most prisoners.”

Last week, MDC Alliance national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere tested positive for coronavirus two days after being released from jail.

She was facing charges of allegations of communicating falsehoods that a Harare based police officer reportedly killed a baby while attempting to beat the child’s mother with a button stick.

Two weeks ago, Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume was forced to self-isolate after two of his prison inmates tested positive for Covid-19. He was eventually released from prison on bail.

Chamisa said “studies have shown it is better to implement a short but effective lockdown rather than a prolonged lockdown as compliance with lockdown regulations goes down with a prolonged lockdown.

“The unavailability of social safety nets for the vulnerable, considering our heavily informal economy, means that people will be forced to breach lockdown regulations in search of food, water and money to cater for their families.

“This again reduces the effectiveness of the lockdown. We must be careful not to flatten the economy in our bid of flattening the curve.

“We face the risk of a lockdown induced poverty. Lockdowns are not meant to be permanent solutions, there is a need to create a lockdown exit strategy.”

As of Friday afternoon, Zimbabwe recorded 32,988 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 25,151 recoveries and 1,198 deaths. Nehanda Radio

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