The recently announced lockdown extension, for 14 days, is the sum total of a government that has sought to please two contrary ends and ended up creating a faceless Covid-19 regime that may fail to achieve its supposed prime focus.
The government, caught in a fix on the way forward; conclude the first 21 days and allow people back into normalcy or extend the days for safety; has chosen the middle path by coming up with a lockdown that does not ‘lock’ everything.
It stifles just enough movement to create the feeling and picture of a lockdown whilst seeking to squeeze through some sectors allowing the cash-stricken government to earn some money.
Common deduction shows that the government is facing financial challenges due to a locked industry.
President Mnangagwa said the government will allow mining companies, which earn most of the foreign currency, to resume operations whilst manufacturers will also resume their work at limited capacity.
Some Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), falling under the manufacturing sector, will also resume and that can be a huge number considering the percentage part of informal players.
Tobacco floors will also soon be opening in a decentralized system to reduce congestion whilst the Mbare Musika will continue as it has been doing.
Further the previously defined essential services will also be continuing.
Add the obstinate but eventual movement of the general public in locations and the picture isn’t really of a country under a lockdown.
The pressure of hunger and need to survive means this second session of the supposed lockdown will be characterised by increased human movement as time exerts pressure on incomes.
President Mnangagwa has said the main objective of the extension is to flatten the curve and to increase the testing and Covid-19 recoveries.
However with the scenario above playing out, the curve will not fall that easily.
The hesitant and limited testing which has been ongoing, reduced primarily to Harare mainly, is another negative to the plan.
The actual risk is that the increased movement from a partially locked country will allow the virus to spread randomly even more.
The situation gives chance to more local infections that will be harder to trace.
Since they had decided to extend the lockdown they should have simply taken a huge bite and did it to its full measure so that it was done once and for all.
This version of the lockdown, seeking to ease pressure on government coffers, seeking to accommodate public sentiments for a resumption of business and in the same step shut the virus out is a diplomatic middle path to nowhere.
It will lead us back to where we already are, at the finishing line of another lockdown, but with new infection numbers still rising.