SOUTH Africa-based Opposition Ideas Party of Democracy (IPD) leader Herbert Chamuka says government is obliged to provide food for poor citizens during the stringent Covid-19 lockdown.
In an interview from his Johannesburg base yesterday, Chamuka – who is relishing to challenging Zanu PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the 2023 presidential election – said if the lockdown is to achieve its goals, government will have to assist poor citizens with food to prevent them from venturing out, catching and spreading the virulent virus.
“As long as people are hungry, they are bound to go out looking for food, thereby risking catching or spreading the virus and this obviously means the lockdown would have failed on its objectives,” Chamuka said.
He added that currently, the economy was in such a very bad state that people are prepared to take the risk to survive.
“Our country’s economy is in very bad shape. About 70% of our people live on selling their wares on the streets and menial jobs and it appears these are the people most targeted by the coronavirus restrictions as they are considered to be super spreaders, but the truth is that those people live on hand to mouth basis and cannot afford to remained locked down as they will starve to death.”
So we are saying our government must provide food for these people as they observe the lockdown. That is my plight to government. Where are the people going to get rentals? Other countries help in that regard, helping the disabled, children and the elderly and we must follow suit,” he said.
“Above all, they must work to improve the economy so that people can work on their own. Right now people are having to cross over into South Africa through the Limpopo River, risking crocodiles and further spreading the virus. We have got a lot of people jumping the border. Zimbabwe must protect its citizens. Those jumping the border are spreading the virus and they must be severely punished, but it does not mean the government must not do its job,” he added.
Chamuka also said Mnangagwa must urgently engage incoming US President Joe Biden for the removal of sanction imposed by that country on Harare whilst at the same time working on improving government’s poor human rights record.
“Mnangagwa must engage Biden immediately after he is sworn in as president of America on January 20 and ask him to remove sanctions because they have really destroyed the economy. However, he must also work to improve his administration’s poor human rights record. We cannot be a country in perpetual political violence and as president he must surely know that and mend it,” Chamuka said.