Freedom Mupanedemo and Michael Magoronga
President Mnangagwa yesterday said empty streets that greeted him when he toured Chegutu, Kadoma and Kwekwe demonstrated high compliance levels by citizens with Government’s directive for them to stay home and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The President made the remarks after his unannounced tour of cities and suburbs that started in Norton, then Chegutu, Kadoma and ended in Kwekwe to assess the level of compliance to the lockdown that Government ordered two weeks ago.
The First Family, comprising the President and the First Lady, used a minimal entourage during the tour, which caught many — including journalists — unawares, as he sought to assess the level of compliance by Zimbabweans to the lockdown measures.
He said the eeriness and quietness of alleys and streets in all the cities and suburbs they visited was impressive.
“Last week we toured Harare, but I then told myself that the majority of the country’s leadership is resident in Harare so I should also check what is happening in other cities and towns because people would ask questions as to why I only toured Harare.
“Today (yesterday) I visited Chegutu, Kadoma and Kwekwe to have a feel of what is happening and I was quite impressed with the level of compliance in all the cities,” said the President.
He said the First Family decided to take many by surprise to get a true reflection of what is on the ground in terms of compliance with lockdown measures.
“I am happy that our people are observing the lockdown measures. Everywhere we visited, people were in their homes; business centres were deserted especially in Chegutu and Kwekwe cities, where the streets were virtually empty.
“We deliberately did not announce our tour. We did not give notice, we just said let’s take this route and we believe what we saw is a true reflection of the situation and I am very happy,” said the President.
The President’s tour took place as one more person tested positive for Covid-19, bringing to 14 the total number of confirmed cases in the country, with three deaths.
Government has since tested 547 people for the virus, with 528 coming out negative.
Harare recorded seven confirmed cases of Covid-19, which is the highest number, followed by Mashonaland East with four. Bulawayo and Matabeleland North recorded two and one, respectively.
The President said he expected people in all cities and towns across the country to heed the lockdown measures, emphasising the severity of the pandemic and its devastating effects across the globe.
He said by staying home, people were protecting their lives and those of their loved ones from the deadly pandemic.
“I would like to believe that Bulawayo, Hwange, Lupane Chinhoyi, Hurungwe, Mutare, Chipinge and everywhere in the country are observing the lockdown order. It helps not an individual, it helps everyone in the country so people should observe the lockdown measures, as well as social distancing,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said it was worrisome that the disease was continuing to claim lives in other countries with statistics also showing an increase in new infections.
“In other countries, the deaths figures are continuously rising so we should observe all precautionary measures like the lockdown and social distancing.
“It is my belief that everyone is being responsible wherever they are throughout the country as we mitigate and avoid the spread of this pandemic,” he said.
The President said he would be touring other provinces too to assess the level of compliance, starting with Gweru today.
Meanwhile, the Fist Family donated a wheelchair to a 65-year-old man living with disability whom they came across crawling along a dusty street in Amaveni, Kwekwe yesterday.
The President’s entourage had to stop and the First Family disembarked to talk to the man, who identified himself as Mr Dexter Masango.
The First family took his details and went back to their farm where they immediately dispatched a wheel chair for him.
The First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa said Mr Masango would, through her Angel of Hope Foundation be receiving some food items.