Zimbabwe: Informal Sector to Be Most Affected By Lockdown

Zimbabwe began a 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 30, 2020, following neighbour South Africa in implementing some of the world's toughest anti-COVID-19 measures likely to hurt an economy already suffering hyperinflation, food and water shortages.

The informal sector, a key source of employment for thousands in Zimbabwe, will be the most affected by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's lockdown decree, which comes into effect this Monday.

Mnangagwa Friday declared a 21-day national lockdown as his government took precautionary measures to avert the further spread of coronavirus in the country.

However, from the list of sectors that have to remain open for business or closed during the 21-day hibernation, the informal sector appears to be the most affected despite providing livelihoods to 95% of the working population.

On Sunday evening, Industry Minister Sekai Nzenza published a list of sectors exempted from the national lockdown.

"His Excellency, President Mnangagwa indicated that essential industries and services will need to remain open to support the health sector and to ensure minimal disruption in critical goods and services," she said.

"The primary objective remains that of protecting the lives of the employees in these industries by adhering to the strictest occupational health and safety measures under the circumstances.

"Businesses which will be operating during this period are encouraged to put in place workplace prevention and early detection protocols to protect the employees and to mitigate the effects of the virus," said Nzenza.

Companies exempted from the lockdown include those involved in electricity distribution, water supply, sewerage, sanitation, fuel, gas and ICT.

Also expected to be working during the lockdown are; food outlets and markets and agricultural supplies.

Also exempted during the lockdown period are; food outlets and markets and agricultural supplies, hotels, airlines, stadia, car rental services, financial and insurance services, and health funders.

According to Nzenza other sectors include; communication and media services on screen, TV, radio, print, broadcast and online and safety and security services protecting people and property.

In an earlier statement, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's spokesperson, George Charamba said the national lockdown was not a shutdown as the latter would affect the country's economy.

"Kindly note the term essential services is a legal term which includes key economic activities including telecommunications. Besides, kindly also note the government has left it to employees across sectors to regulate their workplaces in line with guidelines from our health expert," Charamba said.

"Lockdown does not mean Shutdown of all productive activity! Otherwise how do you avoid locking down life itself?"

However, the informal sector including public kombis has been barred from operating during this period. Those in need of public transport have to rely on ZUPCO buses, which are public owned.

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