Harare – On Monday, March 30, Zimbabwe will begin its 21 day lockdown as it tries to contain the spread of coronavirus.

In the wake of coronavirus, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a state of emergency, allowing him to deploy military and police forces across the country to ensure compliance. During the lockdown , movement of people is restricted and all non- essential service providers would be shut down.

For a country facing mealie meal shortages , healthcare challenges and energy disruptions, the full enforcement of a 21 day lockdown in Zimbabwe is a difficult task. Zimbabwe’s economy is highly informalised, and the inflation dwindled consumer disposable incomes after a year of macro economic reforms are realities that stand between president Mnangagwa’s noble call to action and Zimbabweans’ ability to fulfil his call.

A day after his national shutdown announcement, Mbare Musika was a hive of activity as citizens flocked to their rural homes in a bid to minimize the financial implications of this shutdown on their pockets. Retail stores were also packed, but only a few citizens were seen walking out with full grocery trolleys as the majority’s pockets could not allow.

In Rwanda, a more stable economy than Zimbabwe , interventions were made this week to feed a vulnerable portion of its population which was starving in homes as the country implements its coronavirus national shutdown.

For Zimbabwe, already, a statutory instrument ( SI83) has been enacted to empower authorities to arrest and/or punish citizens who spread false information, with jail sentences of upto 20 years.It is time Zimbabwe also enacts statutory instruments with safety nets to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and the ensuring 21 day national lockdown on local businesses, families and individuals.

With memories of the August 1, 2018 post election violence still fresh in the minds of Zimbabweans and global humanitarian watchdogs, Zimbabwe’s 21 day Covid-19 shutdown is different from other global shutdowns. It is a global stage for president Mnangagwa’s national security forces to respect citizens’ rights in their implementation of the president’s decree. This is Zimbabwe’s fresh test for its security sector reforms.

For more information, download Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 Statutory Instrument here.