Barely a week after President Mnangagwa announced a raft of measures to be implemented during the 21 day lockdown, the Ministry of Finance came in with another setpiece of measures to deal with the same situation.
Apparently some things had not been thought through.
A similar act played out earlier at the beginning of the month when President Mnangagwa set a limitation of 100 people per gathering then changed to 50 within a week despite there being no substantial change to the situation.
And that was in-between, ironically, addressing a rally of thousands himself.
The US$ has also returned in a surprising move as the government says it’s trying to deal with “the effects of Coronavirus”.
The mashed-up moves speak of a government that is not just struggling to run the show but is crafting the script as they are going.
Security or Health
Even after those additional changes the lockdown strategy has remained a headless militant foray into a health crisis characterised by threats of force and 20 year imprisonments, the sly introduction of a semi-Cyber law and the arrest of journalists.
Experts have warned that it’s impossible to implement an effective lockdown in a largely informal economy.
India, with 80% of its 470 million work force being in the informal sector without contracts and not protected by labour laws, has faced a similar challenge as the workers try to continue working during lockdown.
However the populous nation has a medical strategy to test and contain the infection within the identified Covid-19 hotspots. Zimbabwe does not.
Resultantly, according to India’s Ministry of Health the lockdown has flattened the Covid-19 curve with cases kept to 1000 in 12 days against the range of 3500 and 8000 in other countries in the same period.
Clarity of Medical Strategy
Locally the medical strategy isn’t clear and the status of the socio-economics is all-wrong
“It’s not practically possible to lock down in an informal economy without any form of relief to the needy”.
“Yes, the whole world is on lockdown, it’s the right thing to do. But without water, it’s futile and grave exercise. Electricity, among other must-have, is scarce”, an epidemiologist quoted by AlJazeera, Shami Fred, said.
With a 76% informal workforce any lockdown that was supposed to happen here had to pay cognizance to the welfare of that majority and not risk disobedience and insubordination from a hungry people.
The $600 million facility for the vulnerable announced is a positive move but like with most such projects faces the risk of being abused as has happened with other support programmes which end up propping the ruling party by partisan distribution to its supporters only.
Like the maize-meal token programme announced earlier this year to deal with drought hunger, there is still no transparency and clarity on the structure and functioning of the facility.
Thus the facility may end as another one of many crafted plans that never work out.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has since taken the City Council and the Ministers of Finance, Health and Local Government to court as it seeks for the provision of water but much still remains to be done before the lock down can become something that will bring results.