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Zimbabweans Heed COVID-19 Lockdown Call Amid Fears of Hunger, Human Rights Abuses

Police enforcing COVID-19 regulations. (VOA)
Police enforcing COVID-19 regulations. (VOA)

Most people in Zimbabwe’s largest cities and towns stayed at home today in compliance with a 30-day national lockdown meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the southern African nation.

COVID-19 lockdown starts off in Zimbabwe. (VOA)
COVID-19 lockdown starts off in Zimbabwe. (VOA)

Police have mounted many roadblocks along major national and city highways in an attempt to enforce the lockdown. Some people have already started complaining about being victimized by state security agents, who are demanding COVID-19 letters authorizing them to visit various places.

People who were interviewed by VOA Studio 7 in Bulawayo, Harare, Masvingo and Chinhoyi said they heeded the call even if they are facing serious problems such as lack of income, food and other basic necessities.

Police are enforcing lockdown regulations in Zimbabwe. (VOA)
Police are enforcing lockdown regulations in Zimbabwe. (VOA)

Shop owners, vendors and other businesspeople, who expressed fear that they won’t survive under the Level Four lockdown, say the government should craft a stimulus package for entrepreneurs that are expected to lose millions of dollars in potential revenue.

Chinhoyi resident, Edmore Sangano, cried foul over the lockdown saying the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe ran out of cash before he withdrew money for purchasing basic foods.

Sangano said, “I don’t know how my family will survive because the bank ran out of money. How are were expected to survive? We don't have money.”

Another Chinhoyi resident, Rita Kanhukamwe, said police are blocking vendors selling various wares in the town.

“Here it’s a cat and mouse game. I spent the whole day hiding and running away from the police. This hurts a lot as my family survives of vending.”

People have heeded the call to stay home amid a COVID-19 crisis in Zimbabwe. (VOA)
People have heeded the call to stay home amid a COVID-19 crisis in Zimbabwe. (VOA)

Tendayi Munyanduri of the New Patriotic Front praised the government for imposing the lockdown, saying COVID-19 cases are almost getting out of hand in Zimbabwe.

“This is a very critical moment to contain the spread of this disease which is killing a lot of local people. As stated by the government, the number of COVID-19 cases is shocking and therefore the lockdown is important in containing its spread.”

Members of the Zimbabwe National Army have been integrated into the COVID-19 monitoring units designed to stop people from engaging in street vending and attending gatherings.

Thirty-four people have died in the lat 24 hours in Zimbabwe and 1,365 tested positive for COVID-19.

Nunurai Jena contributed to this article.