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VP Chiwega’s sudden covid -19 lockdown hits Chipinge people with shock.

By Tendai Mutsveta

The 30-day lockdown of January 2021 has come as a shock to residents of Chipinge as it greatly affects their socioeconomic life by disrupting the activities of people at the very beginning of the New Year.

Zimbabwean generally view January as the most difficult month of every year where there will be shortages of food and attendant financial challenges brought about by the festive season spending and merry-making.

Residents of Chipinge interviewed by this paper expressed doubt on the sustainability of the lockdown arguing people had nothing in storage for consumption to sustain them over the set lockdown period. A cross-section of people; from businessmen, vendors and common people have been demotivated from all the plans they had for the year, failing to understand the logic behind such a sudden act by the government.

“The sudden regulations that were implemented with immediate effect did not give people ample time to get ready for imperative measures that include getting food items and medication like the last time. It also affected SMEs and large businesses because they did not have time to create constructive measures that will help sustain their businesses during the lockdown period,” said one Chipinge resident.

Said a Chipinge rural council worker: “Closing the borders but opening airports was quite a useless move. This is only benefiting the elite people to move from one place to another hence creating segregation. These same people are the ones travelling to countries with high rates of infections and they are allowed to come back in the country raising the rates of infection in the country.

“Moreover, the country’s economy is boosted through cross border activities thus a shutdown of the border will greatly affect the economy. Those who had come for the festive holidays will no longer be able to go back and work for their families. The move was an inconsiderate one.”

Chipinge is a community with people who work abroad, more specifically South Africa. Thousands had come home to celebrate the festive holiday with their families. The sudden shutdown of boarders, intercity and provisional travel has negatively impacted on people’s livelihoods.

Shamiso Bingepinge, a builder based in Tanganda said the lockdown will greatly affect self-employed people who need services from different places to sustain their working activities.

“For instance a builder in Tanganda will need certain materials from Chipinge town but with the travel restrictions this means one is unable to fend for his or her family due to lack of materials,” said Bingepinge.

“It is like Zimbabwe is a puppet of South Africa as whatever our southern neighbour puts in place is repeated here, without considering issues like why it has been put in place there, how will people react or live with it, what are the after-effects of such regulations.

“Unlike SA Zimbabwe does not have food relief programmes. SA offers its citizens money per child to be able to feed themselves so some of the lockdown regulations will not affect their life negatively.

Another resident who requested anonymity said: “Yes, lockdown is for our benefit, but how will it benefit us when possibilities have it that we can die with hunger in trying to minimize the spread of Covid-19.”

Constantine Chagonda said the sudden lockdown has affected the schedule of schools and has brought a lot of confusion to teachers and students. Pupils have spent an inordinate time at home without going to school and the issue of online learning that government is trying to implement is not effective because of network issues and financial constraints.

“Getting these pupils back in track after the lockdown has ended will be difficult,” said Chagonda.

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