The Sunday Mail
GREETINGS our beloved residents from all the corners of our beautiful country Zimbabwe.
As the nation braces for the worst blows of a more potent strain of the Covid-19 second wave, the Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations of Residents Trusts (ZNOART), in its oversight role on the well-being of residents across the country, joins the nation in raising the alarm bells for all people to be more alert, vigilant, responsible and accountable to every move they make wherever they are. The enemy lurks at our doorsteps, intent on wiping out the entire Zimbabwean nation. Accordingly, this calls for a sobering reflective moment to all and sundry: the worst is nigh.
Critical at this moment is survival. Thus, Mark Bolan writes in his fictional work “The Fiery Cross”: In the jungle, survival is top most priority; second to none. Panic kills.
When a chance arises, grab it; it may be your last! No statement is more apt to capture the existential circumstances of the Zimbabwean citizenry amid the crescendo and din of the cannon fire from the lethal Covid-19 arsenal.
What is needed is to save lives. Zimbabweans should survive in order to chart the near-complete transformation of the nation into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
To this end, all other issues or considerations play second fiddle to the quest for survival. Pursuant to the primacy of saving lives is the sobering reality that this comes at a cost: the cost of “freedom” (which some over-zealous elements seem to portray in hyperbolic terms as inalienable at all costs).
Curtailing people’s freedom of movement or association may seem, from a superficial point of view, an act of malevolence or sadism. But far from it: the stringent lockdown restrictions were a painful decision arrived at to save lives.
In the chronicles of Jewish history, there is a moment when the Jewish exiles in Egypt are told to lock themselves indoors, with a sign of blood on the lintels of their doors to escape the pestilent scythe of the angel of death.
The safety of the Jewish exiles lay in lockdown and strict observance and adherence to the need for the “blood mark”. Thus, Christians today sing (in commemoration of the decisive night): “When I see the blood I will pass over you.”
Stemming from the analogy of the lockdown by the Jewish exiles, Zimbabwe’s revised lockdown could be construed in the same light.
In principle, staying indoors echoes the call for people to be at home and the 6am to 6pm curfew restrictions; the “blood” sign epitomises the need to sanitise, wash hands and social distance!
If, for some inclinations, one individual decides to break the curfew regulations or to expose himself/herself and those around him/her to the deadly virus, this may seem more like culpable homicide!
Accordingly, there is a need for discipline!
Discipline to resist the urge to go outdoors for no apparent reason! Discipline to wait for the legally provisioned opening of schools to operate (instead of having clandestine tutorial lessons)! Discipline to master the urge to go on a drinking spree (as some people still do under the cover of darkness in our townships where the illicit brew is traded)!
Discipline to wait until the borders are officially opened to the public (instead of daring the crocodile-infested Limpopo or the mine-fields of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border)! Discipline to stay home and worship as a family (instead of deliberately breaking the lockdown restrictions on gatherings)! Discipline to be honest to produce valid documents at police checkpoints (instead of fraudulently manufacturing travel documents)!
At moments of crises, the nation will be jittery. The national psyche will be on edge. Accordingly, those with any vital information or pieces of news should report responsibly!
ZNOART takes exception to the tendency by some elements to use the social media to peddle prefabricated information and photoshopped images of a very disturbing nature.
To capture an incident of untoward conduct by the security agents enforcing lockdowns is not, in itself, untoward, but this should be quickly communicated to the relevant authorities with the jurisdiction of handling such cases.
To our esteemed legal practitioners, human rights lawyers; in particular, as ZNOART, we implore your indulgence in how you frame issues pertaining to alleged human rights abuses, based specifically on the motive of informing truthfully and objectively, considering all angles involved in a given issue.
To our fellow road users, please, let us not risk ourselves through using prohibited transport and travelling in the curfew period because (technically) if one dies in a horrific accident, that will be as good as suicide! Which insurance company will compensate you?
We, therefore, applaud the Government of Zimbabwe for activating this Level Four lockdown since cases were rising at an alarming rate.
It is an undeniable reality that we were not prepared to go back into lockdown, but the careless behaviour that characterised the festive season and the carefree mixing and mingling with no due regard to social distancing, masking up or hand sanitisation has left us hanging precariously on a cliff edge. If we cannot hang on any longer, it means we will plunge headlong down the bolder-strewn abyss below.
How on earth could people gather in throngs for a New Year’s Eve gig amid the glaring realities of the escalating infection rate?
As ZNOART, we implore our beloved fellow citizens to be responsible in order not to put our lives and those of others in danger.
Remember, we may not be so lucky to tell the horrendous story of Covid-19 infection if we contract the new strain which seems to be more dangerous than before.
Therefore, let us all stay home unless we have to go out; but even so, we need to mask up, social distance, wash hands and sanitise.
As ZNOART, we do acknowledge and know that people being people, will run to extinguish the fire when it has reached their households, which is very wrong. From our cultural repositories, our forefathers would always say you must extinguish the fire whilst it is next door; thus, prevention measures must be taken before one falls prey to the new strain of Covid-19.
Pertinent questions may arise which need to be duly addressed in a pragmatic way using the best possible options available: For someone who virtually relies on vending, isn’t this an essential service to his/her family well-being? How will people who rely on informal ventures make ends meet when they are locked down?
Some people were yet to raise school fees, but now that they are locked down, how will they raise the fees for the rephrased opening of schools? Will there be provision of “safety nets” to the vulnerable people, given that the pandemic has largely left the majority vulnerable?
Pertinent as the questions may be, ZNOART seeks to make it categorically clear to the nation that disaster and risk management starts first, and foremost, with survival.
We need to save lives first from imminent danger before we can chart our course on how to prevent unintended death of people from hunger and starvation during the 30-days of lockdown. Thus, Government (being all of us) should collectively take responsibility towards the continued survival of everyone around us. How is this possible? How can we (mere citizens) save one another?
We work together as follows:
Immediately raise alarm if you notice that someone close by (as our perimeter fences in most suburbs allow) is in dire need of food and other life necessities. Consult relevant local authorities, ZNOART representatives in your area, the Covid-19 taskforce team and the local police, among other key stakeholders.
If subsidised food is brought to our locality, let’s all honestly get a share for our home consumption and shun the sinister motive of hoarding for later selling at a profit. If there are any shebeens still operating in our areas, let’s report to the police immediately.
Using our local vigilance systems, let us use the social media responsibly to interrogate possible ways to get through the 30-day stretch, banking on the noble belief that our local representatives will consider our input in the decisions which would be done on a contingency-based context.
Our frontline workers remain a vital cog in the matrix that begets life-saving results to us all. We should allow them space to perform their duties without fear or favour. Therefore, we implore the security forces to aggressively but professionally enforce the lockdown regulations.
To avoid being found on the wrong side of the law, let’s all co-operate by staying home or if at all we are to move about, let’s mask up, social distance and sanitise!
Together we can save Zimbabwe. STAY AT HOME! SANITISE! SOCIAL DISTANCE!
Shalvar Chikomba is the national chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations Residents Trust (ZNOART). He can be contacted on What’s App : 0776075414. Twitter : @znoart1 Email : [email protected]; Facebook Page: Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations Residents Trust.