Former Health Minister and top MDC Alliance official, Henry Madzorera has described the government decreed localised lockdown in Kwekwe as nothing but an assault on the church which has become the only institution seemingly complying with the order.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as a Health Minister last week imposed a 14-day lockdown on Kwekwe, following reports that a deadly Indian variant had been detected in the city.
Kwekwe residents' chairperson Robson Kadenhe, who died recently, is believed to have succumbed to the Covid-19 variant he is suspected to have contracted from granddaughter who had just returned from India.
In an interview, Madzorera said the lockdown in its current format was unnecessary as it was business as usual in Kwekwe except for churches which has complied with the directive.
"After reviewing the terms of the lockdown critically yesterday, I felt that the lockdown was actually not going to achieve anything.
"It's unnecessary in its current format. Essentially, only the formal churches have been locked down.
"For markets, shops travelling and other businesses, its business as usual. So, this lockdown is just an assault on the churches," said Madzorera, who is also based in Kwekwe.
The Midlands city last recorded a Covid-19 case some two weeks ago, bringing the number of the infected people to 12 and these were individuals who had been in contact with Kadenhe.
Mayor Angeline Kasipo is on record indicating that for the past two months before the death of the residents' chairperson, Kwekwe did not register any Covid-19 case for two months.
Added Madzorera, "We do not seem to have compelling data for a lockdown in Kwekwe at the moment, with only 12 reported positive cases since the outbreak started on 9 May 2021, the last of which was on 14 May 2021.
"If the government had wanted to do a pre-emptive strike on this potentially disastrous outbreak, I think it should have been done on 9 May 2021 when the first cases tested positive, with the full knowledge that they had received a family member from India."
Madzorera, a former legislator in Kwekwe who is current MDC Alliance secretary for health, said it was illogical to close churches under the present circumstances.
"Government must lift the lockdown on churches in Kwekwe and allow them to meet as before with a head count of 50 per service. Churches are the only institution affected by this latest lockdown. All the other measures can be left as they are because they are not a significant departure from what has already been pertaining," he said.
What is of most importance, according to Madzorera is community surveillance and contact tracing for detecting any change in transmission.
"Our testing capacity must therefore be ramped up markedly. Quarantine of arrivals from India is a welcome move and we commend the government on taking this bold move.
"This means people must have serious business to do before they decide to travel from India to Zimbabwe.
"This is a necessary but time limited intervention, and everybody should comply without fear or favour.
"Regular random genomic sequencing of the circulating virus is necessary for future planning.
"We should not relax on health education to the population on masking up, social distancing, avoiding super spreader events like rallies that Mnangagwa had in Gokwe at the weekend," he said.
The Kwekwe lockdown came on the day when President Emmerson Mnangagwa was addressing a bumper crowd at a cultural event in Gokwe on Friday.