Political parties and activists in Bulawayo say the dusk to dawn national curfew imposed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa Tuesday brought back sad memories of Gukurahundi atrocities carried out by the military in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands provinces in the early years of independence.
As part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, Mnangagwa also suspended some citizen liberties ostensibly to contain the virus.
As of Tuesday morning, the country had recorded 1 713 cases, a jump from 985 the previous week.
“A curfew is the worst thing to happen in Matabeleland because it is associated with our sad history of genocide,” said Mbuso Fuzwayo, coordinator with pro-Matabeleland pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu.
“Imposing a curfew with little testing is meaningless. Curfews won’t reduce the spread of Covid-19 because people are still overcrowding in shops and public transport.”
Fuzwayo said the government should pour more resources into quarantine centres instead of imposing curfew on citizens.
“Quarantine centres are not conducive for decent habitat, leading to people running away.
“We are failing to communicate with the nation properly to see the dangers of Covid-19 but to fear the government,” he said.
The activist said government should also have announced its plans on how to address financial challenges facing health workers.
“No budget was announced, no mass testing is being done. Health workers are on strike and their concerns have not yet been addressed,” said Fuzwayo.
The MDC Alliance spokesperson for Bulawayo province Swethern Chirowodza also concurred with Fuzwayo.
“The imposition of a curfew is consistent with the Rhodesian security handbook that the current government now uses against its political opponents.
“The curfew is an indirect way of declaring a state of emergency which was long touted by Mnangagwa’s stooge Eddie Cross.
“For example, is the coronavirus a nocturnal creature to warrant a dusk to dawn curfew?
“One would have thought that offering health personnel more PPE protection and funding to fight the pandemic was a priority,” said Chirowodza.
The MDC Alliance spokesperson said a curfew was a constitutional violation of the people’s right to movement.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) Coordinator Michel Ndiweni said vendors will be affected mostly by the curfew.
“As vendors and informal traders, we are faced with a double-edged sword.
“The lockdown itself has affected many who cannot trade.”
Ndiweni said imposing a curfew without introducing measures to cushion vendors from the current economic difficulties will not help curb the spread of the disease.