BY LORRAINE MUROMO
THE extension of level 4 lockdown by President Emmerson Mnangagwa without providing fundamentals such as social safety nets would continue forcing citizens to breach the prescribed safety regulations to fend for their families, labour groups have warned.
Mnangagwa on Tuesday extended lockdown measures by two weeks citing a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Under the new restrictions, businesses are allowed to run from 8am to 3pm.
But, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo said while lockdowns were meant to preserve lives, failure by government to come up with social grants for vulnerable communities would result in defiance of the regulations.
“There is no doubt that the virus is real and families have lost loved ones,” Moyo said.
“Unfortunately, measures are not adequate because hunger and loss of income will push citizens not to comply with the measures as they try to eke out a living.”
He added: “The level 4 lockdown can be kept in place for the coming two or more months but it might not produce the desired results if other issues are not addressed as well.
“The support for business to continue providing jobs, the social services for the vulnerable communities, adequate transportation for those in the essential services and other measures are needed to support the lockdown.
“The economy continues to take a knock while people have lost jobs and other sources of income. The country has lost doctors, professors, teachers, nurses, journalists the list is endless.”
Zimbabwe’s economy remains fragile as business hours are restricted during the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
“Several companies were forced to close down since March last year when the country first introduced lockdowns.
Government last year promised to provide social grants to over three million vulnerable people, but the programme was marred by controversy, with only 300 000 Zanu PF-linked people said to have benefited.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) executive director Samuel Wadzai said the extension of the lockdown was necessary, but lack of social grants to the vulnerable could work against its intended success. “The outlook of the economy is inevitably bleak, particularly considering the fact that there is no provision of social security for the sector in our country,” Wadzai said.
“However, there can be no economy to talk of without taking into account the lives of informal traders who, in Zimbabwe, now make up the bulk of employers.”