Amid the growing Covid-19 crisis, some political parties are threatening to stage demonstrations at the end of this month.
By yesterday, Covid-19 positive cases had risen to 942 with one more person having died of the disease to take the death toll since March to 12. The rise in cases comes a few weeks after the Government relaxed the lockdown to get the economy working again.
Owing to the easing of the lockdown, more people are free to move around, church gatherings can now be held, Zupco can now carry a full load of passengers, some students at institutions of higher learning have returned to class and the informal sector has reopened. The partial return to normal business is however subject to preventive protocols such as mandatory wearing of face masks while in public, social distancing, regular hand washing and sanitisation.
The easing has coincided with the rise in positive cases and deaths. In response to that, President Mnangagwa yesterday told the Zanu-PF Politburo that there could be a need for the Government to review the lockdown measures.
Yet, the growing challenge is not enough to deter some in the opposition from threatening to stage anti-government protests. The plan has been widely condemned, not only by the Government but also by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“It is in view of this heightened increment in infection cases that I urge the public to continue to adhere to the lockdown regulations and practise preventative and protective behaviour. Government is urging each one of us against complacency,” Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa said on Thursday.
“We are in the midst of an existential threat. Any political posturing is not helpful. We therefore call upon public figures and political players to act responsibly with the safety of Zimbabweans in mind. Any call for mass action at this time is an unnecessary stoking of infection risk to the nation. This country cannot afford adventurism in the midst of this threat to our very existence.”
On its part, WHO, though its country representative Dr Alex Gasasira said:
“Everybody else must continue to implement the prevention measures; physical distancing, hand-washing, limiting movement to only that which is most essential. If we implement all these together, we should be able to limit the number of cases we are seeing in Zimbabwe.”
Mass gatherings at this time must be avoided at all costs, so we tell those who are threatening to organise the marches not to attempt to play house with the people’s health. The lockdown law prohibits marches and gatherings of more than 50 people. This ban was effected because large gatherings are ideal for the fast spread of the coronavirus. As such if the organisers of the marches go ahead, whatever they are going to do would be not only illegal but also a possible ideal environment for the wide spread of the virus. Law enforcement agents will, no doubt, have to do their job arresting the organisers and the marchers not only in terms of recently enacted lockdown laws but also in terms of laws that were already in existence before the lockdown started on March 30.
Also, those who are calling for the demonstrations must be told that there is no political gain to be derived from their planned action, especially at this time when the nation is fighting a disease as serious as Covid-19.
Having said the foregoing, we do not think there are many who would be willing to risk arrest for engaging in protests which are unlikely to get police clearance, thus would be illegal. Furthermore, we do not think there are many who would be willing to risk contracting the coronavirus by being part of needless demonstrations whether big or small. We therefore, foresee people ignoring the protest call.