COVID-19 lockdown: Govt makes concessions as hunger stalks country

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa
  • Lockdown period extended
  • Mining and manufacturing sector set to resume operations

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Sunday extended the COVID-19 lockdown period by a further 14 days from the initial 21 decreed by government on March 30.

In making the announcement, Mnangagwa, bemoaned escalating cases of the pandemic on both the global and national platforms, rendering it hard for the country to revert back to the pre-COVID-19 era.

Mnangagwa said the country had so far failed to meet many of the six World Health Organisation (WHO)’s guidelines, among them increased testing and clearly defined paths towards reduction of coronavirus-related fatalities.

The country is yet to reach conditions for lifting the lockdown as prescribed by WHO. Infections should first be under control in order for us to consider lifting the lockdown. Guided by this reality, government decided to extend the lockdown by 14 days,” Mnangagwa said.

The announcement on Sunday demonstrated a balancing act between an economy already in the woods and the sanctity of human life.

Mnangagwa made a raft of changes on the economic front as he carefully lifted COVID-19 restrictions on the mining and manufacturing sectors.

“The mining sector will resume work but must observe the set guidelines, with screening and testing having to be carried out before resumption of operations. Workers in the sector must also remain at work stations during the lockdown period,” said Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa also waived restrictions on the informal and formal manufacturing sectors.

“The manufacturing sector (both the informal and formal) shall resume operations but under under strict supervision,” he said.

Turning to social safety nets, Mnangagwa said goverment would ensure that Zimbabweans did not starve.

“The social services department has started work, with food aid being given to vulnerable groups. Cash transfers will commence and I will be visiting communities both in rural and urban areas to assess the situation on the ground,” he added.

Zim Morning Post was, however, inundated with calls from people who claimed not to have received anything from the Social Welfare Department as yet.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa said tobacco auction floors would be opened but be accordingly decentralised to provinces to enable social distancing.

Tobacco auction floors will be decentralised, with dates for those bringing in their produce set to be announced soon,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa said another announcement on the way forward would be made after two weeks as Zimbabwe seeks to comply with all WHO guidelines.

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