By Robert Tapfumaneyi
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa says Zimbabwe needs divine intervention as it battles the deadly coronavirus pandemic before pleading with the government to reopen churches for preachers to pray for the troubled nation.
Churches were part of non-essential service sectors that were ordered to close by government early this month as new cases and deaths of Covid-19 continued to rise across the country.
However, speaking in a live programme on his Facebook page on Monday, Chamisa said church leaders should be allowed to continue with their work and pray for Zimbabwe.
Chamisa is also an ordained church pastor.
“We must allow churches to open for a controlled number of people provided there is social distancing, masking and other Covid-19 protocols. To our bishops, pastors, the church body, intercessors and believers, we encourage you to continue to stand in the gap to pray for our nation,” he said.
“We must stand in prayer with those who have been affected by the pandemic. May the Holy Spirit comfort all the families who lost their loved ones.”
Chamisa also said President Emmerson Mnangagwa should grant bail to prisoners in remand prisons and pardon serving inmates with none serious offences to decongest the jails and curb the spread of Covid-19.
His comments came amid reports that 72 inmates last week contracted Covid-19 at Mutimurefu Prison in Masvingo.
“Our prisons have become Covid-19 super spreaders, hot spots and zones. We need a plan to decongest them or put in place strict regimes of testing, screening, isolation and regular disinfecting.
“We must empty remand prisons except for very, very serious offences, give amnesty to most prisoners.”
Turning to the current national lockdown, Chamisa said it was a welcome move meant minimise the spread of new infections.
“Studies have shown it is better to implement a short but effective lockdown rather than a prolonged lockdown as compliance with lockdown regulations goes down with a prolonged lockdown.
“The unavailability of social safety nets for the vulnerable, considering our heavily informal economy, means that people will be forced to breach lockdown regulations in search of food, water and money to cater for their families.
“This again reduces the effectiveness of the lockdown. We must be careful not to flatten the economy in our bid of flattening the curve. We face the risk of a lockdown induced poverty. Lockdowns are not meant to be permanent solutions, there is need to create a lockdown exit strategy.”