PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has implored Zimbabweans to exercise discipline during the 21-day lockdown that starts tomorrow, saying staying indoors is the panacea to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
This comes as the Covid-19 Inter-Ministerial Taskforce which met in Harare yesterday to deliberate on strategies to fight the spread of coronavirus further explained measures that would be taken in enforcing the three-week lockdown.
Although there was panic buying in Harare yesterday, Government will provide a mechanism to allow members of the public to do their shopping, albeit in a controlled manner that is in sync with social distancing.
Authorities say they are working on passes for those providing essential services such as health, water, electricity and the media, among others.
All inter-city transport services have been banned with public transport being availed only for inner city services through the Zupco and Public Service Commission buses.
Private vehicles will be limited to only two people, the driver and one passenger.
All Zupco and Public Service Commission buses will be fumigated to protect providers of essential services from contracting the virus while in transit.
Yesterday, a local company, Fossil Group, donated 15 tonnes of disinfectant liquid worth $10 million which they said was enough to fumigate all Zupco buses beyond the three-week lockdown.
Speaking after receiving the donation from Fossil Group chief executive Mr Obey Chimuka at State House yesterday, President Mnangagwa said staying home was the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“It is important that there is no concentration of people. If we keep to our homes during the 21 days, I have no doubt that this will give a big blow to the spread of the pandemic.”
The President rallied for combined efforts in fighting the spread of the virus as he urged other local companies to emulate the donation by Fossil Group.
“I believe that other companies who produce materials needed to fight the pandemic should do the same and come forward to donate.
“As companies, as industries, as organisations, if we put our resources together … I have no doubt that we will succeed in fighting the pandemic.”
In a briefing after the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the lockdown was necessary, even though it would upset people’s normal lives.
“The lockdown will certainly upset our daily routines but this is a necessary action to ensure that we contain wider community spread and transmission of the coronavirus. The lockdown begins at 00:02 hours on Monday 30 March 2020,” she said.
Asked about the panic buying that was prevalent in Harare yesterday, Minister Mutsvangwa said it was not necessary as people would be allowed some degree of freedom to shop during the lockdown.
“There is really no need to panic buy as we have said essential shops will be open for people to buy food in the suburban areas.
“People will be allowed to go and buy food for maybe once or twice a week. So you can buy for three days or so and you will be allowed to go and buy again. Mechanisms which are workable will be provided.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce had discussed modalities to provide travel documents for those providing essential services.
“There is a committee which discussed that issue. More details will be availed but certainly those providing essential services will be allowed free movement.”
Health Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said health workers, some of whom had threatened not to report for duty, will receive a risk allowance as well as protective clothing.
“They are the frontline soldiers so they need to be well-protected and we have to appreciate the work that they are doing in such an environment. We want to make sure that we will not lose any of our health staff. We have seen the Jack Ma Foundation bringing in the protective clothing which has been distributed to our centres.
“Government has also decided to give all healthcare workers a risk allowance and set up an insurance policy for workers. So Government is doing its best to make sure that they are comfortable. A scheme for motor vehicles and accommodation is also being worked out.”
There have been widespread reports that some facilities, including the Rock Foundation Medical Centre in Harare, had been reserved to treat “elite” members of society.
Dr Moyo denied the reports saying everyone including the rich and the poor would be treated.
“The projects are going to be under Government. Anyone who gets sick with coronavirus will be allowed to enter that facility whether you are coming from the rural areas or any other area, even if you are poor or rich.
“These are facilities from well-wishers and we have to appreciate what they are doing. You will also see St Anne’s coming up as an isolation centre with complete intensive care units.
“This is for all Zimbabweans without discrimination.”
Minister Mutsvangwa also weighed in: “I also want to buttress that this outbreak doesn’t choose between the rich and poor. So really to have more facilities out there is the best way to contain the disease. It’s not about the rich and the poor.”
To ensure that the information on the lockdown cascades to the grassroots, Minister Mutsvangwa said the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce will from today start visits to provinces.
“Members of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce will tomorrow travel to the provinces to update and hand over materials to Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, and their provincial teams in order to bring them up to speed on the action plans they must undertake under the lockdown”, she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said food aid for the vulnerable groups would continue.
“The distribution of food aid will continue. However, distribution points will be increased in order to minimise large gatherings. At the moment, grain and monetary payments are being made to 760 000 households throughout the country.”