BY SILAS NKALA
parts of Matabeleland South are in the dark about the spread of the Covid-19 disease as they have no access to local media, including radio and television stations, it has emerged.
Villagers in Bulilima and Mangwe districts as well as some parts of Plumtree do not have access to local radio and television stations, forcing them to rely on stations from Botswana and South Africa for information.
Fanisani Dube, the Plumtree town council chairperson, said locals were left out of ongoing awareness campaigns around the outbreak of Covid-19, a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“Our people are completely out of touch when it comes to national issues,” Dube said.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has also exposed us and it’s clear we only get information about the disease from our two neighbouring countries, Botswana and South Africa via their radio stations.”
He said the only advantage they had was that Covid-19 was a global pandemic, hence the radio and television stations from neighbouring countries carried relevant information.
“We hope our legislators will ride on this situation to push the government to have a policy that will protect the rights of the people of Bulilima and Mangwe,” Dube said.
“I believe as a community we also have a right to relevant information in accordance with the constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Former Bulilima East legislator Norman Mpofu described the situation in rural areas a ticking time bomb.
“It is business as usual in Bulilima and Mangwe districts,” Mpofu said.
“Most business centres are operational including those deemed non-essential.
“Bottle stores are functional. Currently hordes of people are a common sight as people are seized with harvesting mopane worms,” he said.
“This is worrying to say the least. Generally people have little or no information about national programmes.
“This lack of TV and radio signals has literally cut off the people of this region.
“They are left out and in this case are highly exposed to this virus.”
Mpofu said people in the area thought they were safe from Covid-19 as they heard about lockdowns and other interventions from Botswana and South Africa.
Human Rights activist Effie Ncube said lack of radio reception meant that villagers had no source of critical information on Covid-19.
“What the government needs to do in the short term is to increase alternative sources of information, such as fliers and posters, open space for civil society,” he said.
“Government must work with community-based organisations that are the trusted voices on the ground.
“In the medium term, the government should ensure no inch of the country does not have access to radio and television.”
The Christian-based civic organisation, Habakkuk Trust recently visited Bulilima ward 10 where according to its latest report, it established that there were a myriad of challenges faced by villagers in the advent of Covid-19.