Masvingo – Except for face masks dangling recklessly below shoppers’ chins and supermarkets pointing temperature guns on customers’ foreheads, the threat of Covid-19 seems to be fast waning in the minds of the residents of Masvingo.
What with just two deaths in the province and 212 reported cases since the beginning of the outbreak.
Vendors reinvaded the streets in full force last week and once again they are selling bananas, vegetables and old clothes on pavements in front of large chain stores.
Foreign currency vendors never completely left the streets and now they are at any one time the largest number of people along Hofmeyer Street. Never mind the fact that dealing in foreign currency is a crime.
All malaichas from South Africa which is the epicenter of Covid-19 to Mutare, Harare, Gweru and indeed most cities in the country pass through the Ancient City. A survey by The Mirror shows that they distribute goods to their customers without face masks. The goods are not sanitized when they exchange hands.
It is indeed business as usual! However the danger with epidemics like Covid-19 is that history has shown that they always have phases. The second, third or fourth phase could be more severe than the first.
The closing of shops at 430pm has brought many more new vendors into the streets and now there are hundreds of them lining up the streets in the evenings in high density areas selling grocery which before Covid-19 was only found in licensed outlets. Vendors sell bread, milk margarine to fill the void created by the early closure of shops.
Thousands of vendors have created a new market place on an open space in Mucheke and the place is beehive busy every day. Indeed WHO recommendations at this market are thrown to the wind.
Masvingo provincial Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Charity Mazula told The Mirror that vendors are still not allowed to operate and she promised to look into the matter so that action will be quickly taken.
Masvingo Mayor Collen Maboke said council is aware of an open space between the shops near Mucheke Bus Terminus which is now being used by vendors. He said what these vendors are doing is illegal and municipal Police with the assistance of ZRP will clamp down on the illegal activities which are putting the lives of many people at the risk of contracting coronavirus.
“We are aware of vending activities which are now being carried out at an open space near Mucheke bus terminus. Our officers usually arrest them but they are not stopping. We are planning to launch a blitz in collaboration with ZRP so that we stop the illegal activities which are increasing the risk of the spread of coronavirus in our city” said Maboke.
Vendors who spoke to The Mirror said they are aware of the risks of Covid-19 but due to hunger they have no option. They said it was just a matter of time before going back to the streets as vending is their only source of income. https://masvingomirror.com