New Zimbabwe Correspondents
POLICE in Bulawayo mounted roadblocks and ordered those with nothing to prove they were authorised to go to work during the 21-day national lockdown to return home.
Some ZUPCO buses with carrying capacities of 76 were limiting passengers to just 30.
Most people across the country Monday chose to stay at home as Zimbabwe began the national lockdown announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa Friday.
Reports from NewZimbabwe.com correspondents across the country show there was little activity in cities and towns.
In Bulawayo, some residents intending to get into the city centre were seen being turned away at police roadblocks for not having authorisation letters to go to work by their employers.
“Police were demanding passes or authorisation letters from employers allowing them to report for work,” a Bulawayo based journalist, Timothy Ndebele said.
“Those who did not have the required documents were asked to disembark from the vehicles and told go back home.”
The central business district was deserted with only a few people, mostly civil servants, police and municipal workers.
A survey by NewZimbabwe.com showed that major retail shops such as OK and Pick n’ Pay were closed. A few pharmacies opened while all liquor outlets were closed.
The popular 5th vegetable market, a hive of activity on a normal day, was also deserted with police officers seen patrolling the area.
Commuters from high density suburbs were left stranded as the few ZUPCO buses operating, were strict on the number of passengers allowed.
“I came to work aboard a ZUPCO bus. Only two passengers were allowed to sit on a seat which normally accommodates three people. We were only 30 people in the 76 seater bus,” said Ivin Ndlovu, a council employee.
People in Gweru complied with the lockdown. Although banks were designated an essential service, all the financial institutions were closed, leaving depositors stranded.
Gweru based freelance journalist, Kudzanai Musengi was arrested for taking photos in the city’s CBD while covering the lockdown.
In Mutare, residents also stayed at home and only a few businesses such as food outlets, pharmacies and banks were open.
Police and council employees were patrolling city streets.
“People are complying and as police, we continue to raise awareness to the public. We are also telling them to go home if they have no business to carry out in town,” said Manicaland province police spokesperson, Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa.
However, shops in the high density suburbs, such as Chikanga and Sakubva, were open.
The generality of residents in the resort town complied with the lockdown, but most vegetable vendors and tuckshop owners in the high density areas defied the call and went about with their business saying there was no order for them to close.
“We were not told to stop operating but what we are aware of is that we should keep about a metre away from the next person,” said Agnes Muleya at Chinotimba vegetable market.
Hotels, curio markets and flea markets were also closed, leaving the resort town’s centre deserted.
Police were patrolling the streets ordering vehicles with more than two people to make U-turns.
The situation was the same in Kwekwe where our correspondent said most retail shops and banks were closed and residents had stayed at home.
Artisanal miners and vendors appeared to have paid heed to President Mnangagwa’s lockdown call.
Mostly known for their gold mining activities, artisanal miners had vowed to continue prospecting in some mining shafts in defiance of the government’s directive.
In Masvingo Town, a joint operation by the army and the police ordered all businesses operating to close.
However, major retail supermarkets were allowed to open.
ZUPCO buses were carrying only eight passengers per trip, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded.