Lockdown-vetting now thorough

…..as commuters cry foul

By   Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Government has now tightened   control on commuters entering  the capital city as it battles the spiralling  COVID-19 infections.

Tuesday’s blitz on commuters   saw thousands of commuters being turned away with some security agents claiming that government had reverted back to Level 1 of the   lockdown but this was later refuted by government officials who advised that   the country is still on Level 2.

Speaking to a local daily, Assistant Inspector Paul Nyathi confirmed   that the country is still on Level 2 .

“The ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) urges members of the public to observe that the country is still under Level 2 national lockdown in order to manage the Covid-19 pandemic. Only essential services, businesses in the formal commercial and industrial sectors were exempted to operate during this period.

“The rest of the public should stay at home in order for the nation to curtail the increase in new COVID-19 cases being recorded. Please note that it is not everyone who should be in the CBD. Let us all be security and health-conscious in view of the increase of Covid-19 cases,”Paul Nyathi was quoted saying.

This was also reiterated by the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, during her post-cabinet meeting address.

But however despite the assurances by the government, commuters are still facing torrid time at the hands of security agents who have the discretion to vet who is eligible to enter into the CBD.

RadioVOP spoke to a number of commuters who expressed concern on the conduct of some security agents at various roadblocks who were turning away people on flimsy reasons.

“I came from Mabvuku to work and didn’t incur any challenges with police and soldiers manning the roadblock at Mabvuku turn-off but was ordered to go back home at the roadblock near VID Eastlea depot.

“One of the soldiers was laughing at me saying you can’t be an essential staff because I am into cleaning and hygienic services and I had to use the unconventional ‘railway path’ to come to work,” said one elderly woman who works as a cleaner at a downtown building .

This reporter witnessed a commuter being turned away by a soldier at the VID Eastlea on the pretext that the commuter’s hairstyle did not fit someone going to work despite that he had his letter of exemption.

Security forces controlling the Chitungwiza-Harare roadblocks who are now infamous for denying   even eligible commuters are reported to be continuing with their antics.

“It is confusing now that we have the government saying we are still on Level 2 but the security details  here seems to enforcing regulations of Level 1.

“I had to plead with them(security agents) to let me pass as they were claiming that the butchery I work for is not popular so probably I was faking,” said a butchery attendant who requested anonymity.

According to police, 50 729 people have been arrested for flouting lockdown regulations, most of them for unnecessary movement , failure to wear a mask and not adhering to social distance .