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Coping with coronavirus, Zimbabwe style

Burning food when people are desperate for it is very hard to understand.
People stood in line at the borehole waiting for their turn to use the hand pump to fill their containers with water. Image: Cynthia R Matonhodze, Bloomberg

On an early morning emergency dash to collect supplies I was anxious about venturing out and what I would see. It was Day 5 of Zimbabwe’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown and I knew that by now people who live hand to mouth and eke out a living selling fruit and vegetables from roadside stalls would be getting desperate.

Our taps were dry for the second day running and with gloves and a mask on I set out. People were out looking for water already. So far, there was no news on where there were supplies of maize meal, the staple food.

I passed a man pushing a wheelbarrow with five empty yellow water containers, heading towards a public borehole. Fourteen people were already there ahead of him, standing in line at the borehole waiting for their turn to use the hand pump and fill their containers with water. This is coping with coronavirus Zimbabwe style.

Further along a policewoman in uniform ignored me; she was busy taking a selfie of herself on the side of the road, a block or two from the town centre. She wasn’t wearing a face mask.  A group of four police officers armed with truncheons were having an altercation with a man carrying a small cardboard box. None of the police were wearing face masks, despite being a few inches away from the man. This is coping with coronavirus Zimbabwe style.

Read: SA erects fence at Zimbabwe border as virus measure

All week we’ve been seeing pictures of big crowds of people desperately trying to buy maize meal in Harare and Bulawayo.

No chance for social distancing, no sign of masks, just a massive squash of people trying to get food for their families –people who have to choose between hunger and an invisible virus.

Almost 500 people have been arrested this week for being on the streets in breach of lockdown, crammed into police vans and taken away. But in the same week 1 680 prisoners have been released because prisons are overcrowded and congested. This is coping with coronavirus Zimbabwe style.

On Day 5 of the lockdown, news had already filtered out that in the early hours of the morning police had raided Sakubva Market in Mutare and confiscated three tons of fresh vegetables which were later set alight. Burning food when the country is in lockdown, people are desperate for food and over half the population is dependent on international food aid to survive is very hard to understand.

Read: Zimbabwe customs officials walk out

Almost home from my early morning dash, two police details were standing in the middle of the road and indicated for me to stop and open my window, asking where I was going and why. The police woman who came to my window wasn’t wearing a mask or gloves and the obvious question that came to mind was: what if she’s got coronavirus? Isn’t she passing it on to every person she stops and questions? Isn’t this making a complete nonsense of lockdown, defeating the whole purpose of confining people to their homes to stop the spread of Covid-19?

This is coping, or not, with coronavirus Zimbabwe style. God help us.

Copyright © Cathy Buckle

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COMMENTS   8

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Fear not Cathy, south africa is following in Zim’s footsteps. Cry, the beloved country Zim 2.0

If you listen carefully you can hear the violins starting up…

The violins have been playing for some time. I think the trumpet players are thinking of playing The Last Post!

You would think that there would be valuable lessons to be learned from the tragedy of Zimbabwe but no the ANC thinks there is a path to be followed. Why would anyone want the same for their country? Makes absolutely no sense to my mlungu brain.

….and the rhetoric amongst the political parties continues to refer to how successful Zim is since ridding themselves of the colonialists..!!!
Clearly the basis for the measurement of success is not against the same principles, as such why would you want to learn any lessons?

Sa is just another African country with incompetent leaders, but thank goodness im not in Zim.

You will be soon : Just Zim by another name :(Zim by the sea?)

Africa is a truly beautiful continent, with some incredible wildlife … of course some, not so much

End of comments.

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