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$36 000 Fine, One Year In Prison For Defying Coronavirus Rules

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By Leopold Munhende

THE government has set new steep fines and jail sentences for people found guilty of flouting newly gazetted Statutory Instruments (SIs), which seek to control the further spread of coronavirus in the country.

According to the new laws, a person found to have violated the SIs will be liable to a fine of up to $36 000 or one year in jail, or both. The two SIs came into force with immediate effect.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa Monday gazetted the Civil Protection (Declaration of State of Disaster: Rural and Urban Areas of Zimbabwe) (COVID-19) Notice, which allows civil protection authorities special powers to respond to a declared state of disaster.

On the same day, the Minister of Health, Obadiah Moyo gazetted the Public Health (COVID-19) Prevention, Containment and Treatment Regulations, 2020.

The declaration allows the minister to invoke the special regulation-making powers conferred on him by the Public Health Act.

The scope of the regulations include prohibition of gatherings of more than 50 people and compulsory testing, detention to contain the coronavirus.

However, according to legal think-tank, Veritas, anyone found to be in violation any of these regulations risks paying a fine of $36 000, one year in prison, or both.

“There are steep maximum penalties on conviction of breaches of the regulations or orders issued under them: a fine not exceeding level 12 [ZW $36 000] or one year’s imprisonment or both,” said Veritas.