Mutare — Manicaland based youth organisations have urged the police to exercise caution in their discharge of duties of enforcing the national lockdown put in place to curb spread of coronavirus.
In a Joint Statement Concerned Youth and Young Adults Trust (Concerned Youth), Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA) and Zimunya Young People's Network (ZYPN), affiliate members of the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) condemned police brutality against informal traders at Sakubva musika.
This comes in the wake of a blitz by police at Sakubva Musika on 3 April 2020 which they said constituted a violation of the Presidential directive allowing farmers to deliver their produce to markets in urban centres.
President Emerson Mnangagwa, in a national address, said 'food supply should be granted with minimum shocks or disruptions', urging the 'security arms to ensure a pathway for food supply'.
"It is integral that we keep our economy moving forward during this period of lockdown. Farmers must continue to produce for our nation even under conditions of Lockdown. Farmers and traders alike must equally continue to deliver produce to markets including to those markets that supply our cities, towns and growth points.
"To that end, I direct our security arms to ensure a pathway for food supply. All Agricultural activities must remain undisturbed throughout the period of the lockdown. All our producers must continue to feed the nation with minimum hassles," said President Mnangagwa.
Youths called for police to discharge their duties in consistence with the law as stipulated in statutory instrument 77 of 2020 or SI 2020- 083 Public Health ( COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) ( National Lockdown) Order, 2020.
They said the actions of the police were unconstitutional and undermined the authority of the President and exposed vulnerable members of society, living from hand to mouth, to possible starvation.
"The wanton act by the police in Mutare is a clear violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe section 13 which requires the government to promote private initiatives and self-reliance.
"The act also undermines the authority of the Government and the President, in person barely a week after he made a loud and crystal clear televised address on measures and strategies meant to combat COVID-19.
"Coming from a background of working for, with and identifying with the poor, the peasant, the marginalized, students and the workers, we mourn the destruction of livelihoods for all would be beneficiaries of the burnt wares.
"It is of no point pretending to safeguard citizens from the spread of COVID-19 but exposing them to starvation. Our vendors and small scale farmers live on hand to mouth income that the confiscation and burning of their wares will result in an economically major drawback that may subsequently lead to them being stressful," read part of the joint statement.
"It is against this background that all police officers and state security deployed towards enforcement of lockdown must be trained and oriented to enforce the recently passed statute in a manner that genuinely and faithfully protect the citizen. Citizens must also be respectful and law abiding as the measure is meant to protect them rather than fixing them as perceived by some."