Gweru vendors and residents at war with lockdown restrictions

By Ronald Chuma
Vendors and residents in Gweru are defying the lockdown restrictions by carrying on with their day to day business despite the danger posed by Covid 19 out-break in the city.

In a survey conducted by this reporter in most high density suburbs, essential services were open but the regulations which were imposed by the government are not being effectively observed by the residents such as social distancing and wearing masks.

The economic malaise and the cultural norm of ‘January disease’ has forced the vendors and residents to engage in risky behaviors as they find means of survival however the spell of the second wave is high likely not spare the citizens if proper handling of their plights is not accounted for.
“We know there is Covid-19 and we know the government thinks it is doing this for our protection but the truth is that we depend on hand to mouth, if we ‘lockdown’ our work, we won’t have food to eat the next day.

“We have to choose between staying at home and starving, for this reason that we are pleading with the authorities to consider us as essential service because we have to fend for our families in this January disease month despite the pandemic,” said a vendor who declined to be named.
Mkoba 15 dweller Charles Ngara highlighted that there was compliance from residents and businesses on the first and second day of the lockdown phase however the resistance from vendors and money changers is now at peak as they break curfew rules.

Vendors and residents in their day to day business: Picture by Chuma Ronald

“I am not happy with lack of compliance by vendors and some residents who are not adhering to the lockdown restrictions imposed by the government, people are not wearing masks, no practice of social distancing at most no sanitization of hands in some of the outlets hence we are putting our lives at risk” he said.

However Information secretary Nick Mangwana urged people to guard against complacency as the cases for Covid-19 and deaths skyrocket to unimaginable figures, as of yesterday 1112 new cases and 47 deaths were recorded giving a rise in cumulative cases to 25 368.
“The key message to residents is to stay home so as to break the chain of infections,” he said.

However, GRRA director Cornelius Seliphiwe noted with concern that the lockdown come as a challenge to residents and vendors but adhering to the new setup is best protection for people’s lives and health.
“Lockdown has so many impacts to informal workers including vendors for they rely on hand to mouth to feed but adhering to lockdown measures is a merit to their health security, people need education because Covid 19 is real,
“Government should give a hand to its citizens with food for the lockdown to be effective and for the containment of the virus,” he added

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