Cabinet Urges People To Come Out Of Lockdown And Go Back To Work As Businesses Drag Their Feet In Reopening
13 May 2020
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Monica Mutsvangwa

State Media|Companies need to push ahead fast with plans to reopen, using exemptions already granted to lockdown regulations, but at the same time must follow the rules on masks, sanitising and social distancing so that workers and customers remain safe against Covid-19 infection, the Government has stressed.

The lockdown rules have been relaxed in steps to allow sectors to resume business and avoid an economic disaster for Zimbabwe, while at the same time simple public health rules have been put in place to maintain the gains from the lockdown and keep everyone safe.

Briefing journalists last night after a Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said Government wanted companies to reopen, but the firms were experiencing difficulties in accessing rapid results test kits for their employees, in compliance with the requirements. So extra time had been given for tests.

But even with the extra time given to find kits or arrange testing, companies must adhere to the rest of the conditions such as hand sanitisation upon entry to workplaces, the wearing of face masks and enforcement of social distancing at their premises.

The Government is also expecting the main business sectors to fill requirements for equipment and materials. Established and reputable companies will be contracted to provide equipment and materials for fighting and treating Covid-19 with briefcase companies seeking to cash in on the pandemic without offering value being “sifted out”.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Government had noted with concern the sharp rise in briefcase firms seeking to participate in tender processes for the supply of Covid-19 materials.

“Government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that such unscrupulous business elements are sifted out,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Yesterday, Cabinet noted that the release of $27,5 million by Treasury to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and District Development Fund (DDF) for countrywide drilling and rehabilitation of boreholes, establishment of quarantine centres for returning residents and setting up of a 24-hour Covid-19 Command centres headed by the Civil Protection Unit, had contributed to the containment of the pandemic.

Responding to questions on Government’s ability to take care of those returning from other countries, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Professor Paul Mavima, said there were enough resources and the ministry had been allocated $125 million since the start of the lockdown.

“We may have some logistical problems here and there, especially this weekend due to the large influx of people at Beitbridge Border Post. We can assure the nation that the resources to look after these returnees are available,” said Prof Mavima.

“There is another element to the returnees; there are returnees who say ‘we do not want to be in public facilities, we would rather pay and be in more comfortable facilities’.

“And if you look at this matrix, you will realise that Cabinet is saying, yes, if there are those people who want to pay for themselves, we should set up those private facilities. But they will have to be inspected by health authorities and be approved before taking in any returnees, so that has been granted.”

Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, told The Herald last night that if some returnees wanted private facilities as quarantine centres and were willing to pay, Government would assess the facilities ranging from hotels to lodges.

“Once everything has been put in place, then those designated places will be availed to those who can afford and are willing to pay. Security is still an issue to ensure that all the institutional infrastructure for a mandatory quarantine are in place regardless of who is paying.

“It means that the employees of these places have to be protected from potential infection. It also means that there should be enough security to prevent people from absconding,” said Mr Mangwana.

Meanwhile, Prof Mavima said the disbursement of $300, increased from the originally proposed $200, to vulnerable families under the cash transfer programme, had been delayed because Cabinet later directed that the list be reconsidered to ensure that those getting the money were genuinely vulnerable, meeting the envisaged criteria for beneficiaries.

Already, 90 000 beneficiaries have been approved and Government will start paying them soon.

Turning to police check points, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said they were meant to ensure compliance with lockdown regulations such as wearing facemasks.

He explained that even drivers alone in a vehicle still had to wear a face mask under the law.