PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday announced a pro-poor Covid-19 national lockdown restrictions review and eased several restrictions, notably the opening of industry and informal sector.
The closure of industry and informal sector caused a massive pounding of the economy with several citizens falling victim to job losses as there was little to zero production.
The informal sector is one of the economic growth drivers in Zimbabwe and most players feared hunger more than the economy, resulting in growing calls for the re-opening of the sector.
Mnangagwa took heed of the deafening calls and opened the sector on condition of adherence to strict World Health Organisation guidelines.‘Cat and Mouse’ skirmishes between police and informal traders had become the order of the day during the lockdown since March 2020.
“This was a survival move by Mnangagwa because people were starving had he kept the industry and informal trade closed.
It was a pro-poor move, remember the informal sector has a significant contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and there is need to monitor the adherence to WHO guidelines to avoid death.
“Mnangagwa was in a Catch 22 situation, to let his people die of hunger or Covid 19,” said a political analyst who preferred anonymity.
Economists predicted that the post- lockdown period will see more workers being laid off as companies count their losses.
According to a study recently carried out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the national lockdown was “disastrous” to Zimbabwe’s economy- with the informal sector hardest hit.
“It is disastrous, affecting, disproportionately, the poor and vulnerable, small and informal businesses, and small-scale agricultural producers,” the assessment says.
It further stated that slower imports could cause shortages and spiking inflation, deterring badly needed investment and worsening widespread poverty among Zimbabwe’s 14 million people.
The country has been on lockdown since March 30 2020 due to a spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths .This year, there was threat of the South African Covid-19 variant which spreads and kills faster.
In his address, Mnangagwa said vaccination remains free for citizens and that wearing of face masks, temperature checks and washing of hands remains mandatory.
He did not state the actual dates of schools re-opening but said they must “prepare”.
Government has recently embarked on an inspection programme in all schools to ensure a safe environment for learners.
Another notable review is the exemption letters which are no-longer mandatory therefore increasing free movement with the curfew being moved to 10 pm.
The tourism sector received major boost through the allowing of inter-city travel and opening of restaurants for take-aways and deliveries.
This promotes domestic tourism as people can visit resorts across cities.Beer imbibers still remain shut out as pubs and bars remain closed.
Zimbabwe received its first delivery of 200,000 doses of Sinopharm last week and the roll out programme is going on countrywide.
Below are the highlights of the lockdown adjustments:
1. Curfew 10pm to 5.30
2. Letters no longer required
3. Supermarkets to open till 7pm and must enforce social distancing
4. Industry to open with strict WHO adherence etc
5. SME, food markets, etc can reopen
6. Intercity travel can now resume
7. Funerals max 30 people, Other social gatherings max 50
8. Bottle heals, night clubs to remain closed, bottle stores open for take away
9. Restaurants to open for takeaways and deliveries. No sit-ins as yet.