By Sunday Oyinloye
Barely a month after the opposition in Zimbabwe pledged to work with the government to fight COVID-19 pandemic, the MDC Alliance has expressed what it called “extreme concerned” about the lockdown restrictions in the country alleging that “it is clearly working against the interests of the poor and marginalised people of Zimbabwe”.
In a press statement signed by Sesel Zvidzai , Secretary for Projects Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship, MDC Alliance, a copy of which was made available to Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable, the opposition says that it is worried by the announcement of extension of the lockdown for another 14days by the government stressing that the new restriction seems to have favoured the rich and the privileged.
“The People’s party is worried that when it was announced that lockdown will be extended for a further 14 days; the new restrictions seems to have favoured the rich and privileged only at the expense of the long suffering poor and marginalised masses such as those in the informal sector.
“Indeed, it appears as if the lockdown restrictions have now been relaxed mostly for big business, such as mining, manufacturing and commerce. These sectors are now able to get back to work” said MDC Alliance.
The opposition said further:” the great majority of the country’s populace now survives on informal economic activities such as vegetable vending, agricultural produce and clothing selling. By admission of the relevant national authorities, 95% of the economy is now informal.
“The People’s party expected some serious consideration to be given to the informal sector but is shocked to see that this most important sector has once again been overlooked and unkindly treated by the latest policy pronouncements on lockdown. The bias against the poor and the marginalised communities is very evident in the recently announced stage two lockdown.
“It is indeed clear to all and sundry that the majority of the population in Zimbabwe that is now so poor can no longer afford to put even a single meal on the tables for their families. The lockdown extension will without doubt exacerbate the plight of the majority of poor urbanites whose livelihoods are hinged on vending and other informal activities.
“What makes it even worse is that the relevant authorities have made pronouncements on rentals and shut a source of livelihood for pensioners and many others whose only source of income is rentals income.
“The MDC Alliance strongly condemns the new lockdown pronouncements due to their blatant bias against the poor and the elderly. We posit that this is a fight against the poor rather than against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been consistently clear that we will join hands with everyone in any fight against COVID-19 and poverty; but we refuse to be part of a fight against the poor and marginalised communities.
“It is our considered view that the social safety nets should be immediately up scaled so as to help in catering for the people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by a combination of COVID-19, and bad socio-economic policies and lack of care. The intervention should be transparent and non-partisan”
The party calls on the people of Zimbabwe “to stand in support of each other, maintain high levels of hygiene, and practice social and physical distancing so as to beat the spread of the deadly Corona virus, and protect ourselves, family and friends.”
It would be recalled that at the middle of last month, the opposition said it was putting politics aside to join forces with the government in the fight against COVID-19.
It also advised then that” “The Government of Zimbabwe must pursue a path that saves lives and protect livelihoods, preventing our economy from collapsing and serving our people during this trying moment.”