A Covid-19 gamble

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Cecilia Kamuputa

HILLARY MWALE looks tired but he cannot afford to take a breather.

Mwale (26) earns his keep from running errands for revellers who come to Mereki Shops, in Harare’s Warren Park, for drinks and some braai.

And on this Saturday business is booming, he has to keep moving.

After all the more errands he runs the more money he makes.

“It has been a busy day, it’s only 4pm and I am already tired. People have been coming in numbers, clearly they had missed going out as the Covid-19 induced lockdown forced them to be at home all the time,” said Mwale.

Indeed, it looks and feels like a regular weekend night.

The sun is threatening to go down and the air is filled with the tantalising aromas of braaied meat as well as loud music blaring from cars.

But this is no supposed to look and feel like an ordinary Saturday as Zimbabwe is still under lockdown and people are supposed to be indoors by 2000 hours.

On 22 July, 2020, the government of Zimbabwe announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

During that period, security forces were to enforce a curfew between 1800 hours and 0600 hours with non-working people required to stay home, except for when they needed to buy groceries and seek medical attention.

Business hours were also limited to 0800 to 1500 hours, except for those offering essential services.

However, following growing concerns from commuters who were failing to be home by curfew time because of a shortage in public transport the curfew was further relaxed on August 18, 2020.

It would appear that the further relaxation of the lockdown measures has pushed some people back to their defaulting settings, going about life as if the coronavirus pandemic is now history.

In an interview with ZTN News, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said even though police patrols are in effect to enforce the curfew with arrests still being made, there is need for a change in attitude in the face of Covid-19.

“The challenge is people want to be policed, arrests only are not effective, we need behavioural change,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.

But some revellers interviewed said although police are patrolling the price of being caught on the wrong side of the law was “affordable.”

 “Unongovapa dollar vanhu ava. (You just give these people a US dollar and they will let you go),” said one imbiber at the popular drinking spot.

To this, Assistant Commissioner Nyathi said the ZRP frowned on corruption.

“Officers found to have accepted bribes will face the full wrath of the law and we urge members of the public every suspected case of corruption involving our officers,” he said.