By Anna Chibamu
PRESIDENT of the Council of Chiefs, Chief Fortune Charumbira has criticised how the government was enforcing its Covid-19 lockdown restrictions saying the operation was chaotic and affected the survival of people in rural communities.
Debating in the Senate this week, Charumbira, a staunch Zanu PF supporter, said people in rural communities were failing to travel to access health facilities or attend to urgent business as they had no access to letters permitting them to move from their homes without necessary permits.
State security agents are demanding from travellers, a letter from an employer or the police at their checkpoints. Failure to produce one will attract a fine of $500.
“Our people in rural communities are disadvantaged. Who is supposed to give them letters to travel?” Charumbira asked Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
“There are so many interpretations on the roads as police are demanding too many things. Many are told to return home at police roadblocks because they have no letters allowing them to travel as they cannot make long journeys to try and get letters from authorities.”
Chief Taruvinga also told Senate there was chaos in rural communities with villagers exposing themselves to Covid-19 as they had no access to face masks and rarely observed social distancing while queuing for basic commodities such and mealie-meal and sugar.
“There is chaos in rural areas. There are no masks and people are not even practising social distancing especially when they queue for basics such as mealie-meal,” he said.
“Government must try to at least bring mealie-meal twice a week in rural areas to avoid hunger and overcrowding in shops as people are hungry and we cannot help the situation prevailing.”
In response, Ziyambi said it was no longer necessary for one to have a letter permitting them to travel after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.
However, he urged people to stay at home if they had no important reasons for travelling.
In a separate contribution, Chief Makumbe of Buhera expressed concerns over delays in the reopening of schools after the closure in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said pupils in rural communities had been disadvantaged as they had no access to e-learning compared to their counterparts in urban areas.
“We understand that in towns, children have embarked on e-learning but in rural areas our kids are home doing nothing,” he said.
In response, Education Minister Cain Mathema said the public broadcaster, ZBC was working on reviving its educational programmes for both radio and TV to allow students to carry out studies at home.
Mathema also expressed gratitude to business mogul Strive Masiyiwa, who through his Higher Life Foundation, had partnered government to improve the learning during the Covid-19 lockdown.