Elliot Ziwira and Victor Maphosa
Eighteen people were killed, while 73 others were injured in 147 road accidents on Christmas Day and Boxing Day holidays.
During the same period last year, 17 were killed, while 174 others were injured in 276 accidents.
National police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday attributed the accidents to speeding, reversing errors, following too closely and inattention.
He urged motorists to observe road rules.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans from all walks of life on Friday celebrated Christmas Day, but with larger crowds being witnessed in rural than in urban areas.
There were small groups at shopping centres and suburbs that The Herald visited in Harare, but thousands were gathered at growth points and peri-urban shopping centres in clear contravention of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
People who spoke to The Herald said this year was better compared to previous years because basic commodities were readily available and affordable.
Others commended the Government’s efforts in arresting inflation and ensuring price stability.
There was a huge crowd, mostly youths, at KwaAmos, a popular spot at Murehwa Centre.
Many of the youths were drinking beer and having a fun.
The Herald caught up with Uzumba legislator Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa there and he commended the New Dispensation for initiating policies that led to the stabilisation of prices of basic consumer goods.
“I have been to many places in my constituency, and also at Murehwa Centre. People are happy,” he said.
“Prices of commodities are stable. As you can see, a lot of people here are happy and in a celebratory mood. This level of political and economic stability shows great success on the part of the Second Republic. We give credit to the Second Republic, as its financial management is a great success. The benefits are also being felt even here in the rural areas.
“I want to urge Zimbabweans that as we are entering a new year, 2021, let us work hard and produce to ensure the success of our nation. Let us go to our farms; let us go and implement the Pfumvudza concept. We are receiving a lot of rains, so this is our year for production and prosperity.”
It was the same at Nhakiwa Business Centre, a few kilometres from Murehwa Centre.
People were freely enjoying their drinks while loud music filled the air. There was a lot of dancing reminiscent of how Christmas Day was celebrated years ago.
James Luckson (42) from Nhakiwa, Uzumba District, said it had been long since they last enjoyed Christmas the way they did on Friday.
“Last year, we did enjoy Christmas, but this year, it was even better. Maybe it is because prices have been stable for some time now. Even beer is affordable,” he said.
“This year reminds me of some years back when we used to carry radio sets from home in a wheelbarrow to these shops. We would play some music, dance and drink till the early hours of the next day.
“If you look around here, you will see some young men carrying radios and playing music. It is a great day.”
At 44, a shopping centre about 44 miles from Harare along Harare-Nyamapanda Highway, hundreds of people were milling around while a braai stand were packed with beef, pork and chicken.
Only a handful were putting on masks. It was the same in Domboshava with barbecues and imbibing being the order of the day.
A shop-owner at one of the shops in Domboshava said while he had tried to stock as much as possible, his stocks were running out by Thursday evening.
“I have been conducting business here for the past five years. This year has been the busiest, especially during or before Christmas Day,” he said.
“Prices are affordable and have been stable for some time, so people were buying in large quantities. We thank the Government for this,” he said.
The Herald also visited areas in Mufakose, Chitungwiza and Ruwa where people shared various opinions regarding this year’s Christmas celebrations.
Though most business centres in Harare were not as packed as those in the rural areas, bottle stores made brisk business, with some outlets reportedly running out of popular beer brands.
“Yes, this is what we call Christmas. We have everything we need. Had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s Christmas Day commemorations would have been historic,” said one Mufakose resident.
“True, we are happy that prices have been stabilising of late, and basic consumer goods are affordable. However, we urge the Government to intervene on water challenges. The council is failing us, especially in this suburb.”
The same concerns were raised by Chitungwiza residents, who called on the Government to intervene to mitigate water woes in the town.
On a sad note, the celebratory mood has left two families in Banket grieving after two children aged eight and eleven died due to suspected food poisoning during a Boxing Day party hosted by their neighbours.
The children, who were foaming at the mouth, died the next morning. Asst Comm Nyathi said police would avail more details in due course as investigations were in progress.
In another case police in Beitbridge are investigating the drowning of a man believed to be in his early 20s in a swimming pool in Tshitaudze suburbs (formerly Hlalani Khuhle-Garikayi) on Christmas Day.
The man is believed to have been part of a group of people who graced a recreational park in the area to celebrate the festive season when tragedy struck.
His identity is yet to be established and the body has since been taken to Beitbridge District Hospital mortuary pending a post-mortem.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Loveness Mangena said the body was found at around midday on Boxing Day by one of the workers at the recreation park while cleaning the swimming pool.