MDC leader Nelson Chamisa believes the outbreak of the coronavirus gives Zimbabweans an opportunity to bury their differences as they fight the pandemic.
The coronavirus disease, which is also known as Covid-19, has killed about 30 000 and infected over half a million globally.
So far Zimbabwe has seven cases with one fatality following the death of broadcaster Zororo Makamba last week.
Chamisa, who praised President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s declaration of a total shutdown for 21 days beginning tomorrow, said there was a need for a raft of measures to assist those running small-scale businesses to survive the disruptions.
Posting on microblogging site Twitter moments after Mnangagwa announced the shutdown, Chamisa said, “The decision to lockdown Zimbabwe is necessary, wise and supported. We are in circumstances of a catastrophe. There is only one Zimbabwe. We are one people.
“Politics aside, we must unite to save lives. Measures to test, detect the virus and cushion the vulnerable essential!”
Chamisa told The Standard in an exclusive interview that Zimbabweans must rise above politics and mobilise international support needed to avert a disaster.
“We have to deal with exposed companies, small businesses and I know people will ask where the money comes from, but that is where there is need for mobilisation of international packages and that is why the ability to unite beyond politics is key because it will unlock new energy for the country and fresh impetus for the direction of the country,” Chamisa said.
“We need a raft of measures and mechanisms to cushion our vulnerable people, the unemployed and the elderly.
“It is important to have this lockdown and it must be used to reflect on a number of issues to build our capacity and continue isolating the disease and also cushion groups without jobs like vendors and the informal sector so that they survive.”
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system is grossly underfunded and there are fears that if coronavirus cases spiral, the country would not be able to cope with the number of patients.
Doctors and nurses went on strike last week protesting at the lack of personal protective equipment at public hospitals.
The health care workers also want the government to pay them risk allowances for handling people suffering from the highly infectious disease.
Individuals and corporates last week started making donations and setting up platforms to raise money to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
— The Standard