Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Of Masvingo’s scofflaws and surge in Covid-19 cases

 



Clayton Shereni

With the
country under a strict 30-day-long national lockdown which the authorities
believe will help to flatten the Covid-19 pandemic curve, many Zimbabweans were
caught unprepared as they came from the festive season.

The
festive season is usually a time of merry-making and spending, with families
reuniting with those returning from the diaspora.

The
movement of people during the festive season caused a huge surge in Covid-19
cases and deaths since the first cases were recorded in March last year.

Since
March last year, the country has been on different levels of the Covid-19
induced lockdown. At some point, the pandemic seemed largely contained, but
only for the nation to be surprised by a second wave which has proved to be
deadlier.

Masvingo
province had only two active cases as of July 09, 2020, but is now getting
overwhelmed, with authorities blaming unlawful acts as the major contributor to
the recent sharp spike in the infection rate.

As of
January 11, 2021, a total of 27 585 arrests had been made while 11 183 cars had
been impounded across the province for failing to adhere to the lockdown regulations
since March last year.

The
province has recorded a total of 1 491 cumulative cases and 34 deaths, 546
cases remain active while recoveries stand at 911 as of January 13, 2021.

January
05, 2021, saw a return of a much intense level four lockdown across the country
amidst a great surge in the number of infections.

From
January 05 – 11, Masvingo recorded 1 672 arrests while 373 cars have been
impounded. The new level four lockdown came with a host of conditions
including; closure of beer halls, bottle stores, banning of gatherings, 6pm to
6am curfew among other stringent measures.

However,
the police have been busy enforcing the measures with significant arrests being
made across the province and most of them coming from the urban areas.

Police
have been out in full force making arrests and using minimal force on those
caught on the wrong side of the lockdown laws.

Provincial
police spokesperson, Inspector Kudakwashe Dhewa said they were out in full
force to make sure the regulations are being followed and warned defaulters
that the law will take its course.

“From
our assessment, we are seeing a positive response. The police are on high
alert, enforcing the set regulations and people have seen that disobedience
isn’t paying because lawbreakers are being arrested. We are talking very loudly
about compliance,” said Dhewa.

He also
warned those engaging in illegal activities that contradict the set rules that
the police will pounce on them and that they will answer for their actions.

 “We want to warn those operating shebeens and
beer halls to stop forthwith. Our thrust is to stop the spread of the pandemic
not to punish them but if they don’t take heed of what the government
directives, they give us no option but to make arrests. Even those who are
moving unnecessarily and after the stipulated curfew hours will be arrested,”
added Dhewa.

However,
some have blamed law enforcers not only in Masvingo but across the country for
selective application of the law even at roadblocks where alleged corruption
can give travellers the right of passage.

Critics
also say law enforcers must also avoid touching exemption letters and any form
of exemption being used by the public on roadblocks as this may be a
super-spreaders of the virus.

The
provincial Covid-19 taskforce is, however, concerned with the level of
ignorance in high-density suburbs where people are moving around without
properly wearing facemasks.

Masvingo
Province Covid-19 taskforce spokesperson, Rodgers Irimayi said the compliance
was fair but bemoaned that the high-density areas were a cause for concern as
residents are roaming around without face masks.

“Generally
in our province, people are trying to comply but some think these measures were
put in place for those in cities only. We have also noted that in residential
areas people are moving without face masks.

“One of
our major problems is revelers who are unscrupulously finding means to meet and
drink alcohol. Some are operating shabeens and we are unleashing the police to
make arrests so that we contain this pandemic,” said Irimayi.

Some
are rather wearing masks when they meet law enforcers and some don’t bother to
wear the masks even at boreholes where they will be jostling for water.

With
service delivery on its knees in the country, Masvingo has also experienced a
service delivery catastrophe especially when it comes to water supply and this
has prompted meandering and long queues, handling of the borehole without
proper safety measures being followed and maximum contact.

 This is also another area that can be a
breeding place for the virus and washing of hands and sanitization should be
regularly done.

With
the economy on its knees and the majority being informal traders, law
enforcement agencies have been engaging in running battles with vendors in
high-density suburbs who are trying to make ends meet but rather end up getting
carried away and forget about Covid-19 preventative measures.

 As cases surge, it is a public secret that
there is a need for the general populace to start thinking straight and accept
that this pandemic is real and deadly.

The
surge is also a wake-up call for law enforcers to genuinely enforce the
regulations and also the need for continuous awareness campaigns

TellZimNewshttps://tellzim.com
TellZim News is the leading news organization in the Southern region. It provides candid, balanced and timely news from the communities. Keeping it real. Committed to tell Zimbabwe.

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