Report by Thandeka Matebesi
Residents from Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North have expressed concern over the lack over protective clothing and testing kits to help fight the spread of the covid-19 pandemic.
The Government recently announced level two (2) of the national lockdown which took effect from Monday 04 May where members of the public are prohibited from going outside without masks.
Tsholotsho Rural district Council Chairperson Councillor Esau Siwela said the district is not well prepared to deal with the pandemic as a result of the lack of Covid-19 testing kits and protective clothing and equipment.
“As Tsholotsho district we are not well prepared in terms of protecting the community and preventing the spread of the corona virus. We do not have testing kits and we cannot really say that there are no cases because we have not tested anyone as yet,” said Siwela.
He added: “We would like the government to come to our aid and provide masks, sanitisers and other protective clothing and equipment because as it is now we do not have anything. We are trying our level best to observe the set laws by the government but it is difficult because of these challenges”.
He urged the Government to consider setting up a testing centre at Tsholotsho District Hospital to encourage testing for Covid-19 among community members.
“As a district we would like to have our own testing centre, Tsholotsho is a very big district with a big hospital. I think it’s a challenge for people to depend only on testing being conducted at Mpilo Central Hospital which can take time. Moreover, because as the country is under lockdown, it is quite difficult for people to even leave their homes,” he said.
Siwela also revealed that there were acute food shortages in the district attributed partly to the closure of borders. He said there was need for the government to come to the aid of the Tsholotsho community to avert the crisis.
“The other challenge we are facing is the shortage of food, people are struggling to get access food. Although we have been receiving food aid from various donors, there remains a challenge in terms of accessing affordable mealie meal. We have not yet received government subsidized mealie-meal which is more affordable. People are forking out as much as four hundred Rands for a 50 kg bag of mealie-meal.
“It is a common fact that most people in Tsholotsho are dependent on their relatives outside the country especially in South Africa, now that borders are closed the elders are starving because those outside the country cannot send them money or food,” said Siwela.