BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
BUSINESS has resumed at Mbare’s Magaba home industry with informal traders defying COVID-19 lockdown regulations and going about their usual operations.
This is despite that the government recently banned operations of the informal sector, which was classified under non-essential services in the 30-day lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
A survey by NewsDay revealed that vendors have flocked the Siyaso and Magaba areas and that they are trading on a full-scale, including undertaking manufacturing activities.
As part of enforcing the COVID-19 regulations, the Zimbabwe Republic Police mounted several roadblocks on roads leading to the central business district (CBD), barring unauthorised motorists and pedestrians from entering the CBD.
Health experts have also warned of a surge in COVID-19-related deaths if people continue to defy lockdown regulations.
Chief co-ordinator of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Agnes Mahomva (pictured) told NewsDay in an interview recently that members of the public were obliged to follow COVID-19 regulations to protect themselves from the raging pandemic.
But vendors that spoke to NewsDay argued that economic constraints had pushed them into violating the lockdown regulations, although they were cognisant of the seriousness of the pandemic.
“I can’t stay at home while I have nothing to eat. The seven days that I have been at home doing nothing have been tough. It’s better that I play hide and seek with the police and get to put food on the table than face the prospect of watching my family starve,” Eliot Magama, a street vendor in Mbare said.
Another informal trader, Onias Mapanga said the government should have considered the plight of vendors who survive from hand-to-mouth before imposing the 30-day lockdown.
“Government should have secured funding for the informal traders so that they don’t starve when they are not allowed to conduct their operations. People are dying of COVID-19, but for me, there is no difference. It’s better to die trying,” Mapanga said.
Mbare was recently on the spotlight for violation of COVID-19 regulations after thousands of people attended a New Year’s eve gig which was held at Matapi Flats.
Organisers of the gig the Chillspot Records duo of Arnold “Fantan” Kamudyariwa and DJ Levels (real name Tafadzwa Kadzimwe) and promoter Simbarashe Chanachimwe, popularly known as Dhama, were sentenced to an effective six-month jail term each for violating COVID-19 regulations.
The Zimbabwe Informal Sectors Organisation (Ziso) led by its executive director Promise Mkwananzi has since filed papers at the High Court, challenging the constitutionality of the recently imposed 30-day lockdown by government.
Ziso is demanding that Vice-President and Health and Child Care minister Constantino Chiwenga, must be ordered to allow all goods and service providers to operate subject to prescribed precautionary measures such as wearing of masks, gloves, using sanitisers, maintaning social distancing and temperature checks.
Alternatively, they want the court to order Chiwenga to reduce the period of enforcement of the Level 4 lockdown from 30 to 21 days with effect from January 3, 2021.
The High Court is yet to make a ruling on the matter.