‘Empty streets on day one of Zimbabwe lockdown’

By Shingai Nyoka

Zimbabwe’s police force including riot police were out in full force patrolling the streets and stopping vehicles and people on the streets to check whether they had authority to be out in public.

Zimbabweans have largely stayed home. The streets are quiet. Market stalls in Mbare – the heart of the informal sector – have stood empty.

One man who mostly washes cars for a living told me he is already struggling to feed his family. The government should have allowed vendors to operate but given everyone protective masks and gloves to wear, he told me.

Others told me they wanted to stay home, fearful of how the coronavirus has affected other countries.

Zimbabwe’s government has announced it will divert budgets mainly towards healthcare. Doctors and nurses continue to insist they will only work when PPE’s are provided.

Zimbabwe is facing an economic crisis, and high unemployment that has sparked concerns about how millions of people forced to stay home will survive for coming weeks.

Drought has left about half of the country’s population hungry and in need of food aid.

One million households are to receive cash handouts as announced in the government’s Covid-19 relief package. Many more remain in desperate need of help, at least until this lockdown ends.