Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said Zimbabweans have the responsibility to ensure that the Covid-19 scourge does not become insurmountable by complying with the requirements of the 21-day national lockdown meant to stop its spread.

Last Friday, the President declared a total lockdown on the country with effect from yesterday to contain the spread of Covid-19 which has infected more than half a million people worldwide.

Speaking at State House in Harare on day one of the lockdown, President Mnangagwa said the Government quickly reacted by implementing measures to avert the death of many people as seen in other countries.

Zimbabwe has recorded seven positive cases of Covid-19, one of them fatal, and President Mnangagwa said the country cannot go on as if everything is normal but act fast so that the virus does not affect more people.

President Mnangagwa said Covid-19 is no longer a mere challenge but an out of control problem taking thousands of lives globally on a daily basis.

“I say this not to induce fear in your hearts, but that you appreciate the gravity of the situation. Thousands of lives, in some of the most advanced nations in the world from east to west, have been lost,” said President Mnangagwa.

“We have an opportunity to ensure that this challenge, which currently exists does not become insurmountable. Many countries tragically reacted too late. And today they are facing the consequences.

“I have declared a 21-day lockdown to stop the spread of this virus which has leached our land, the lockdown began today.”

President Mnangagwa said during the 21 days, the Government will work tirelessly to make sure that we are ready to face all scenarios.

“We must make sure that our medical teams are equipped and protected and that our hospitals are fully prepared. That our citizens are ready,” he said.

The President said food stores and medical suppliers will remain open during the period.

“A list of vital industries will ensure that the lights remain on, and that the economy’s heart continues to beat, even if it is at a much slower pace.

“I repeat, if you need to leave your homes to buy food and medicine, you will be able to do so. The security services will be enforcing the lockdown with a listening ear. Their job is to help, to protect and to keep us all safe,” said the President.

While acknowledging that the process is not easy, President Mnangagwa said it is in the hands of Zimbabweans to stop the spread of the virus. He said those going to work must conduct themselves responsibly, keeping their distance wherever necessary, wearing masks and gloves and thoroughly washing their hands.

“This 21-day lockdown is not a punishment, it cannot be avoided. It is an opportunity to save lives. We have 21 days right now to save thousands of lives. And how will we save those thousands of lives? By acting responsibly, and by staying at home. By washing your hands and by keeping at least 2 metres distance from one another,” said President Mnangagwa.

“I want all of you to spend the next 21 days acting as if you already have the virus, as if you are a carrier. Would you want to infect your friends? Would you want to infect your families? Would you want to infect your countrymen? Of course not. So, keep your distance — two metres away from each other. Don’t touch your face. Again, wash your hands. Stay at home.”

President Mnangagwa said while declaring the 21-day national lockdown was not an easy decision, it was the right one.

“Our economy will survive. Our economy will recover. But right now, nothing is more dearer to me, nothing is more sacrosanct, than the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. We can emerge from this a strong and healthy nation,” he said.