Mangwe villagers begin to feel lockdown pinch

Villagers in Mangwe, Matabeleland South, who all along have been going about their daily business since Zimbabwe entered a 21-day lockdown, later extended by a further 14 days, are now feeling the pinch of the unprecedented exercise aimed at halting the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The country’s lockdown came into effect on March 30 and was on April 19, a few hours before its expiry, stretched by two more weeks.

Extending the lockdown last week President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said among other things, Zimbabwe was yet to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) conditions for lifting the same.

Some of the conditions include the need to have in place health systems that are capable to test, isolate, treat and trace every contact and having transmission of the virus fairly under control.

Zimbabwe so far has 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including four deaths of the deadly pandemic which has infected over two million and claimed thousands across the globe.

While lockdown conditions in rural areas remain rather relaxed compared to urban areas where the movement of people is largely restricted to ensure citizens comply with shutdown regulations, some rural dwellers are now getting uncomfortable with the prolonged state of affairs.

This is true of those people who went to their rural homes prior the lockdown and cannot come back to the city with inter-city transport having long been suspended.

CITE this week spoke to some people in Mangwe who said they would not want the lockdown further extended as that would worsen their situation which is already dire.

“The situation this side has all along been all right, but things are now beginning to get tougher,” said Mthabisi Dube of Khalanyoni.

“We used to buy for example, 2 litres of cooking for R30 and now it is R65 because of this lockdown. If the President decides to extend this lockdown, we will all die of hunger.”

Dube said aggravating the situation was the closure of the nearby, border between Zimbabwe and neighbouring Botswana – Mphoengs-Matsiloje Border Post – making it impossible for local to cross over and buy groceries.

There is also limited transport offered by cross-border traders, popularly known as omalayitsha, also stuck in the country with both Botswana and South Africa under lockdowns as well.

“Things are now tough,” bemoaned Dube.

“The majority of omalayitsha do not have fuel as they have been getting it in Matsiloje in Botswana so they are also stuck as we speak. The roads are clear; there are no kombis; no buses; there is just nothing.”

While President Mnangagwa might not necessarily lift the lockdown on May 3, when it expires, he is expected to further relax some stringent conditions.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)