By Daniel Itai – The Zimbabwe Daily

Harare, Zimbabwe – On Friday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a further relaxation of stringent restrains under lockdown alert level two.

The two most important relaxations were the ability of informal traders to get back to their business provided they have a permit and adhere to the country’s COVID-19 safety measures as well as interprovincial travel provided it’s necessary.

However, most of the opposition parties criticized the announcement by the President rather calling for the complete removal of the national lockdown.

“Relaxation of lockdown regulations by the government is a necessary evil. In as much as relaxing the regulations poses a greater danger to the populace, we need to understand the level of poverty our people have become exposed to. Most families last had a decent meal before lockdown and continuing with these regulations is a threat to their livelihoods.

The government is not ready to assist it’s suffering citizens and so the only option they have is to allow people to live their lives freely. We should know that Zimbabwe is a highly informal economy and as such I support the idea of opening up all sectors of the economy so as to ensure that our people have sustainable decent livelihoods,” said LEAD leader, Linda Masarira.

Moreso, leader of ZimFirst, Dr. Maxwell Rusike labeled the current national lockdown as draconian which needed to be removed with immediate effect.

“The lockdown that was instituted is clearly a draconian lockdown  because it does not take into account the citizens’ welfare. The world all over where lockdowns where put in place, the governments clearly communicated how the effects of the lockdown would be mitigated. This was not done in Zimbabwe.  

However, I am of the view that all sectors of the economy should be opened with clear guidelines on how to minimize the spread of the virus taking into account that the virus thrives in winter, which we are in.

In addition, stern  measures such as wearing masks, regular hand-washing, use of sanitizers and observing social distancing should still be strictly adhered to. This will most definitely minimize transmission.

To ensure that infections don’t result in fatalities, the government should focus on the following, capacitating the treatment centers by providing ventilators, immune boosters, procurement of adequate Personal Protective Equipment and to ensure the health sector is fully functional and that the service providers are taken good care of.

Hopefully the government, tone deaf as it is known to be will finally listen to the people’s plight and take cognizance of our local  circumstances,” said Dr. Rusike.

However, MDC Alliance’s national Youth leader, Stephen Chuma said there was nothing new from the announcement as most of the people had now resorted to their normal livelihoods.

“Emmerson Mnangagwa simply confirmed what is already happening. People in ghettos had already set themselves free from the tight lockdown regulations because they survive on hand to mouth yet the government did not do anything to cushion them during that time.

Our people as we all know survive on vending hence, they went back to their normal daily routines way back before Mnangagwa’s pronouncement. This is no secret and Mnangagwa himself knows people do not take his word for he is not for the people,” said MDC Alliance’s national Youth spokesperson.

To date, the country has just under 400 COVID-19 cases with the majority of the cases associated with returnees from other countries and four fatalities.