By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
RESIDENTS and vendors in Chinhoyi have defied government’s lockdown while playing cat-and-mouse with state security agents enforcing the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
A snap survey by NewZimbabwe.com in the administrative capital of Mashonaland West province showed that since the new measures came into effect Tuesday, residents have shown reluctance to stay at home as directed by authorities.
A sizeable number of vendors, money changers and touts went ahead with their businesses as if all was normal.
The CBD was teeming with people despite the 30-day lockdown decreed by authorities.
Although most shops were closed, except for large retail outlets such as OK, TM and a few pharmacies, hordes of people were roaming the streets, with others evidently loitering aimlessly.
This is despite the presence of armed soldiers and police details who had their dogs patrolling the streets.
At Gadzema vegetable market, it was a hive of activity as those out to buy their stocks continued unhindered. The situation was the same in the populous Chikonohono high density suburb.
Chinhoyi Vendors Association chairman, Enock Maisiri said although it was prudent to adhere to the lockdown safety regulations, vendors also needed to fend for their families.
He said the Zimbabwean economy was largely informal with many families having to go without food and shelter as breadwinners would be grounded.
“Yes, Covid-19 is real and taking a toll on our people, but we have to balance between shutting down the informal sector and people’s survival.
“People, particularly vendors, have to go out and eke out a living on the streets lest their children and other dependants die of hunger,” said Maisiri.
Meanwhile, Chinhoyi Residents Trust coordinator, Peter Liwanda urged residents to take government’s call to stay at home seriously and allow only essential services providers to go to work.
“Covid-19 is not sparing anyone, even the so-called big fish are succumbing to it. Therefore, we urge residents to stay at home, wear face masks and sanitise to curtail the spread of coronavirus,” said Liwanda.
Those workers not categorised as providers of essential services should remain at home, said Liwanda.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, in his capacity as health minister, last week announced new Covid-19 lockdown measures which will be reviewed at the end of the month.
As of Wednesday this week, the country recorded 34 deaths in a period of a day, bringing the cumulative total to over 400 deaths since the beginning of the national lockdown in March last year.