BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
Chitungwiza residents and legislators have criticised the government decision to prohibit travel between Harare and the dormitory town except for essential services and humanitarian reasons.
The government on Friday said Chitungwiza was considered a city, hence travel was banned to control the spread of Covid-19.
Residents said the decision would rob them of their livelihoods as an estimated third of the workforce in Harare resides in Chitungwiza while businesses in the sprawling town rely on supplies from the capital.
Chitungwiza South legislator Maxwell Mavhunga said the inconsistencies in policy implementation by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration are worrisome and “smack of political rather than logical reasoning”.
“For starters, Chitungwiza is part of Harare metropolitan province. Secondly, businesses in Harare have not been shut down,” Mavhunga said.
“It does not need a rocket scientist to discern that most of the workforce in Harare comes from the metropolitan province’s areas that include Chitungwiza.
“Government’s statement has the effect that all Chitungwiza residents can no longer go to work if they are not essential services.”
Mavhunga argued that government should just come out clean and introduce a level 5 lockdown.
Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala said: “From St Mary’s police to Harare Post Office, it’s exactly 20km. From Zimre Park to Harare it’s exactly 20km.
“People of Chitungwiza have been banned from getting into Harare (central business district). Aren’t we the people of Chitungwiza belonging to Harare metropolitan province?
Chitungwiza North MP Godfrey Sithole said radical measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 without social safety nets were bound to create criminal elements.
“In as much as we would want to support measures meant to curtail the spread of Covid-19, it is also very bad for the government to just announce such a radical measure without putting in place social safety nets for citizens,” Sithole said.
“This will create another pandemic of hunger and other social ills associated with unemployment such as prostitution and robberies.”
A businessman at Makoni shopping centre said many businesses that were into electrical goods and motor vehicle spares would be affected as they buy them from wholesalers in Harare.
“We will be affected in many ways because we travel to town almost every day since there are no wholesalers for electrical goods, motors spares and hardware in Chitungwiza.
“I think their main agenda is to make sure all Chitown and Norton residents get vaccinated first in order to go to town since we are the most populated town,” said the businessman.
Police yesterday were still to implement the measures announced by Information ministry spokesperson Nick Mangwana as people continued to travel freely between Harare and Chitungwiza and the other metropolitan areas under Harare.