Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
THE month of April, which starts today, is important in the history of the country as every year on the 18th we celebrate Independence Day brought about by the liberation struggle waged against the colonialists to free the masses from colonial bondage.
This year’s celebrations are important in many ways as Zimbabwe, having won its Independence in 1980, marks 40 years of self-rule and also importantly that the Government last year devolved the holding of the main programme.
The first celebrations outside Harare since 1980 were meant to be held in Bulawayo at Barbourfields Stadium and preparations were at an advanced stage but everything was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands of people worldwide.
The country is at war, not a war with any offensive forces but against a ravaging virus which has infected more than 500 000 people worldwide.
Zimbabwe has so far recorded eight positive cases of coronavirus, one of them fatal, and the Government has moved swiftly to introduce a number of measures to arrest the further transmission and spread of the virus.
President Mnangagwa on March 17 announced that as part of Zimbabwe’s measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Independence Day celebrations among other national events had been postponed to contain the transmission and spread of the virus.
“Government has decided to postpone, curtail or cancel public events, gatherings and activities. In that respect, Government has postponed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, all national Independence Day celebrations previously planned and pending international sporting fixtures until the threat of coronavirus recedes. All these activities will resume as soon as we are satisfied that our nation is no longer at risk,” said President Mnangagwa.
Critically, President Mnangagwa called for unity in the fight against the transmission and spread of coronavirus.
“Now this is the time to show unity and purpose in our nation. We have to reach out to one another in fighting this deadly pandemic. It knows no political party, no ideological boundary, no colour, no creed, no nationality. We either unite in fighting it, or it forces us together in shared grief,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said it was up to Zimbabweans to ensure that the scourge of the coronavirus is contained before it takes the lives of Zimbabweans.
“The choice is that stark, and ours to make. The choice has to be made now while there is still time. I count on your full support so we work towards a virus-free Zimbabwe.”
In a review of measures to fight against the corona virus, the President last Friday declared, with effect from Monday, a total lockdown on the country to contain the spread of the virus.
Just as Zimbabwe’s Independence was won through the collaboration between freedom fighters and the people, the coronavirus can be equally defeated when the masses comply with the Government’s measures to avert the spread of the coronavirus.
It is the duty of every Zimbabwean to adhere to the requirements of the lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
To borrow from the President’s words, just as the choice was stark for Zimbabweans to fight and dislodge colonial rule in efforts that culminated in Zimbabwe attaining Independence, 40 years later the same is true in the fight against the rapacious coronavirus.
It’s either we rise together or fall together in the face of this virus that has claimed thousands of lives across the globe hence the importance of coordinated efforts in the fight against it.
When the 21 lockdown days elapse, Zimbabweans should be able to celebrate not only the postponed Independence celebrations but also freedom from the coronavirus pandemic and it is important to remind Zimbabweans that this is dependent on their conduct during the days of the lockdown.
While this years’ Independence Day on April 18 will be marked under lockdown with celebrations postponed for a later date, Zimbabweans should be encouraged by the responsibility that lies on their shoulders during this time, the fight against a killer virus that needs to be defeated before it wipes out our population.
The police have also encouraged the people to comply with the requirements of the lockdown and in the process giving warning to would be offenders who might try to take advantage of this period to commit crime.
“The law is very clear, those who don’t comply will be arrested and prosecuted in terms of the laws of the country. The Zimbabwe Republic Police has put in place measures to ensure that police officers are deployed in the CBD and all residential and industrial areas,” said National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi.
“Those who want to report crime can do so and who can phone can do so on the national number 0242-703631 or the national WhatsApp number 0712800197. We shall avail provincial numbers. This also includes those who would want to report cases in case something happens they can report to the local police.
“The law will take its course and we encourage those who are victims to come forward and report. But at the end of it all, we expect couples, we expect parents to be exemplary now that it’s a lockdown and schools are closed. Yes, there might be challenges and problems but people should behave responsibly. There’s no need for fighting or engaging in domestic violence or any other form of crime.”
Like the President rightly said on day one of the lockdown on Monday, Zimbabweans have the responsibility to ensure that the Covid-19 scourge does not become insurmountable by complying with the requirements of the 21-day national lockdown meant to stop its spread.