April 17, 2020

Will Zimbabwe extend lockdown?

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ZTN Reporter

The biggest question on every Zimbabwean’s mind is, will authorities extend the lockdown?

Zimbabwe went on a 21-day national lockdown on March 30 to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Five cases and one death had been recorded then.

Today is day 19 of the lockdown and the country has 24 cases, three deaths and one recovery.

Other countries, including neighbouring South Africa and Botswana have already extended their lockdowns after experiencing a spike in cases.

Will Zimbabwe follow suit?

Zimbabweans wait with bated breaths.

Many would probably be eager to get a sneak-peek of what President Mnangagwa is thinking.

He is the man mandated with making the crucial decision, to extend the lockdown or not to.

On Thursday the President gave a glimpse of what is going on in his mind.

“Yes, we have introduced a lockdown some two weeks ago but we are realizing now that the pandemic is now more serious than at the time we introduced the lockdown,” he said.

The President is expected to make a televised address to the nation tomorrow on Zimbabwe’s 40th Independence Day.

Will he take the opportunity to extend the lockdown or relax it a bit? Perhaps, he may end it after all. We can only speculate.

Zimbabwe’s Secretary for Information, Nick Mangwana told ZTN that such a decision will be informed by science.

“That decision will be informed by science,” he said.

The President has health experts, the Minister of Health and Child Care, for advice on the way forward.

Mangwana added, “Whether we are extending the lockdown in its current format, or whether we would scale down or change format, that will be informed by science. At the heart of all this will be the ministry of health and the taskforce advising the president on the way forward”.

Business in Zimbabwe wants a partial lockdown, warning that jobs may be lost, if the lockdown is extended in its current format.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, ZNCC predicted that 25 percent of permanent formal jobs will be lost if the lockdown is extended.

It also predicted that 75 percent of casual/temporary formal jobs will be lost if the lockdown period is extended.

“If the total lockdown is extended without resorting to partial lockdown, some of the leisure and tourism operators might completely collapse,” the ZNCC said, in a report on Wednesday.

Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) president, Dr Israel Murefu weighed in.

“The effect on employers is that they may lack capacity to pay labour given that they are not generating any cash flows.”

Murefu added, “Maybe for April employers may squeeze paying wages and salaries but if the lockdown is extended on the same conditions as now many businesses will not be able to pay unless they get a rescue package from somewhere.”

Zimbabwe has decentralized and ramped up covid-19 testing, with 583 people having been tested yesterday (Thursday) across all the country’s 10 provinces.

To date, 1 299 people have been tested in Zimbabwe with 1 275 emerging negative. The country is targeting to conduct 33 000 tests a month.

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