'Nothing has changed, we're still carrying on with all activities we were doing before lockdown'

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ROYDEN Farm is a sprawling rural settlement located about 37 kilometres west of Harare.

Sandwiched between Norton and Harare, the majority of the villagers eke out a living from subsistence farming.

Fishmongers and sand poachers are also among people that call Royden home.

This rural settlement is administered by the Zvimba Rural District Council.

The Sunday Mail Society recently visited the area and other nearby peri-urban and rural areas to ascertain awareness and compliance with Government measures designed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

It seems most people in these areas are oblivious of the dangers posed by the pandemic.

In fact, most people in rural areas believe that Covid-19 only affects urbanites.

At Royden and the nearby Muzururu Farm, villagers went about their usual daily routines.

Most of them were tending their fields, harvesting crops and not observing social distancing.

A villager, Mr Johnson Pazvakavambwa, said: “Nothing has changed. We are still carrying on with all the activities we did before the lockdown. Besides, we cannot afford to buy masks and gloves. I do not even know where one can buy such items.”

Imbibers are still sipping their favourite brew in groups.

Interestingly, they know about the coronavirus but argue it is “impossible” to maintain social distancing.

“As you can see, we are drinking masese (opaque beer) and it is not practical for us to share seated far apart. Our prayers are that we just do not get exposed to this disease, otherwise tinopera (we all perish),” said an imbiber, who only identified himself as Joseph.

However, Zvimba Rural District Ward 25 councillor, Ruzai Muchaurawa, is a worried man.

“We have a serious challenge with people who are coming from surrounding suburbs like Dzivarasekwa and Kuwadzana Extension. They are coming here looking for food since their stocks are running low. There is real danger of getting the virus from them,” he said.

Roadblocks are mainly focusing on people going into the Central Business District and not out.

“There should be strict monitoring of movement of people in all directions,” argues Cllr Muchaurawa.

Apart from food, Harare residents are also venturing into peri-urban areas for sand and firewood.

Some artisanal miners in Mazowe are also carrying on with life as usual.

It is also the same case at Rikatera.

Artisanal miners continue to converge at the shopping centre where they mix and mingle freely.

There are also myths about the virus.

“From what I gathered, this disease mostly affects those that are in town. We are safe here,” said one of the artisanal miners.

However, Mutoko South legislator Cde Herbert Shumbamhini said he was doing everything possible to promote Covid-19 awareness in his constituency.

“Taskforces were set from ward level, which comprise health workers, villagers and traditional leaders. We conducted awareness campaigns and the majority of the villagers are taking heed. However, we still have a few rotten apples who are frequenting the centre.”

He said more could be done to equip health facilities in the area to better deal with the virus.

Worryingly, social distancing is not being observed in most of the areas.

Juru Growth Point has a similar predicament with imbibers topping the list of culprits.

— Sunday Mail


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