Struggling Zimbabwe adds another two weeks to its lockdown

01 May 2020 - 18:17 By LENIN NDEBELE
Zimbabwe has extended its lockdown by another two weeks. File picture.
Zimbabwe has extended its lockdown by another two weeks. File picture.
Image: 123RF / Natanael Alfredo Nemanita Ginting

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the government of Zimbabwe to its knees as it counts economic losses.

As such, when President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a further two weeks lockdown on an eased “level 2”, he revealed the country was struggling to cope because it was excluded from international bailout packages due to sanctions.

His finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, wrote to International Finance Institutions (IFI) informing the world that Zimbabwe will struggle in a post Covid-19 world as it is already running on an empty tank.

“The global Covid-19 pandemic is expected to have a devastating health, humanitarian and economic impact on Zimbabwe,” Ncube said.

He also revealed that domestic resources were not enough to stir the country to a safe mode and government was partly to blame in the way it ran the economy.

“The Zimbabwean authorities duly acknowledge their responsibility for the recent policy missteps during late 2019,” reads the letter.

Acknowledging the situation at home, Mnangagwa said he would avail ZW$18bn which is about 8,7% of the 2020 national budget to businesses facing financial distress because of the lockdown.

Some of the key highlights is his address where that, businesses would open from 8am to 3pm and should practise utmost hygiene while the informal sector will remain closed save for the agriculture sector, church, sporting, gym and leisure facilities to remain closed. All people to wear protective masks in public and returning residents and international travellers to be placed on 21-day quarantine.

Schools will remain closed, a plan is under way for exam sitting classes and plans under way to frame a policy on e- learning. Health workers have been exempted from paying tax for the next six months. Government-owned public buses will be only mode of transport. Gatherings of more than 50 people are not allowed.

The announcement is a middle of the road approach for industry and commerce. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) hoped for a complete opening of industries.

“We expected the lockdown to end on Sunday to allow all companies to resume operations,” said CZI President Henry Ruzvidzo.

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