Zimbabwe: Legal Watchdog Says Govt Lockdown Policies Confusing

Legal and Parliamentary watchdog Veritas Zimbabwe has criticised the multiple changes imposed on the country's lockdown order saying this was now confusing to ordinary citizens.

This is after Zimbabwean authorities have issued four Statutory Instruments since January this year with some seemingly contradicting the others.

Government issued statutory instruments 45 of 2021 which was published on the 19th February and declared the work of customs clearing agents to be an essential service for the purpose of the Lock-down Order, which means that clearing agents can carry on their business during the lock-down.

SI 49 of 2021 was published on the 25 February and allows local authorities to open for business in the same way that government departments have been doing throughout the lock-down.

SIs 61 and 62 of 2021 were published one after the other on the 2nd and 5th March.

Together they relaxed the tight lock-down in terms of public gatherings in shops, bus stops, funerals, religious services and parliamentary committee hearings, among some places.

The SI also prescribed business hours for shops, restaurants, industry and the informal sector.

In total, the country's lockdown order has been amended 17 times.

Veritas Zimbabwe felt the continued and often inconsistent policies relating to the lockdown were difficult to understand by the ordinary man.

"We need to repeat once again a comment we have made at least twice before. The Lock-down Order has been amended 17 times and has become very difficult to understand.

"It is not just the large number of amendments that cause difficulty: provisions have been added to the Order that override earlier provisions, and then those provisions have been suspended and subsequently unsuspended.

"Anyone who tries to find their way through the Order will soon get lost in the thickets of verbiage.

"As we have said before, the rule of law demands that laws be obeyed, and they cannot be obeyed if they cannot be understood. It is high time that the Order was simplified and consolidated. Our health depends on it."

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