THE Bulawayo CBD was Tuesday almost disserted as most residents complied with a government imposed national lockdown set to last for 30 days.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, in his capacity as health minister, last week announced new Covid-19 lockdown measures which will be reviewed at the end of the month.
A quick survey by NewZimbabwe.com in the city centre revealed that most shops were closed, save for big retail outlets such as OK and TM.
Some pharmacies were also open for business while all liquor selling outlets including bottles stores were closed.
The vegetable market which is usually a hive of activity was virtually disserted with police officers and soldiers patrolling the area.
Police officers on horse back were also moving around the city centre arresting people who did not have travelling letters or were not wearing face masks.
Unlike in the previous lockdown, police officers and soldiers seemed courteous and friendly to citizens.
“This time around, the officers enforcing the lockdown measures are very professional,” said Kudzanai Msengi, a freelance journalist based in the city.
“All the soldiers and police officers whom I met were well mannered. I managed to do my job without any hindrance from anyone. This behaviour should be applauded.”
Commuters who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said this time around, they did not encounter any major hurdles getting into the CBD.
“The police officers manning the roadblock were just asking for authorisation letters. In the bus which I boarded, almost all the passengers were allowed to pass through the roadblock,” said Lameck Mahlangu, a security guard.
Some people who did not have letters however evaded security by disembarking before the checkpoints and completing their journeys on foot.
Surprisingly, some of the major roads which lead into the city centre were not manned by any roadblock personnel unlike in the previous lockdown period.
A day earlier, police in the city warned residents to stay at home during the lockdown period, saying those who defied the restrictions would face the full wrath of the law.
Opposition leader, Trust Chikohora, who is president of CODE, said Zimbabwe could not afford a prolonged lockdown period.
“Our economy is largely informal, estimated at 60% of GDP and 80% of employment. Furthermore, there are no meaningful resources given to assist citizens and most businesses.
“We need to find ways of living with this pandemic. That means we need to enforce all social distancing, wearing of masks and sanitisation regulations rigorously.
“In addition, the government needs to use these 30 days to enhance our health delivery facilities in order to cope with the pandemic. In fact, we were supposed to be doing this since March last year.”