Fear Covid, not the police

BY NEVANJI MADANHIRE

On many occasions those leading Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 pandemic response have pointed out that infections are rising due to the complacence that characterises the majority of our people.  There have been reports in the mainstream media of how people continue to disregard the most basic protocols that have been recommended by both the World Health Organisation and our own government to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It’s laughable, isn’t it, that most people only put on their masks when they see a police detail in the vicinity? This seems to imply that people believe the police are more dangerous than Covid-19!  That might well be so, considering some of the things that have come to pass in the past week or so.

It’s gross how people continue to congregate with impunity in public places and how intercity travel continues to happen. Pirate taxis continue to ply our routes, overcrowded and without a care in the world.

Even grosser is how huge gatherings of the Vapositori have been allowed to continue unchecked under the watch of law enforcement agencies.

The grossest of course is that bus that was able to travel almost a thousand km across the country from Beitbridge to Marondera. Imagine all the police roadblocks that it was able to pass through. That confirms that police are complicit in the transgressions taking place. It would seem the bus crew was able to grease its way through police checks. Of course that makes the police very dangerous!

Speculation is rife that the Marondera check that eventually stopped the bus was not because of police vigilance, rather it was because the bus crew had run out of the money to continue greasing the palms of police!

Corrupt police aside, two lessons simply have to sink into the heads of the majority of our people. One, a bribe given to the police does not prevent one from getting Covid-19. Two, in the fight against Covid-19 the buck stops with the individual.

Recently there have been reports of people travelling from outside the country infecting their relatives with the coronavirus leading to death of mostly elderly members of the family. Imagine the stigma such individuals will carry throughout their lives as people who have literally murdered their kith and kin. Why don’t such individuals even have the compunction to reflect on what they are doing?

When intercity travel is banned it means it is beholden upon each individual to ensure he/she doesn’t spread the virus to other people. Imagine the damage the three positive people who were intercepted at Marondera were going to cause at their destinations! The virus spreads exponentially meaning within a week the three would have infected up to 30 people and no one knows how many would have died out such acts of wanton selfishness.

Police are arresting about 3 000 people daily for violating the level four national lockdown regulations. These are mostly the unlucky ones who have failed to evade or bribe the police. But the point is, there shouldn’t be any need for these arrests if the people observed simple commandments that come with the lockdown.

Many will argue they can’t stay at home because they would starve and therefore have to continue their hustle. But their hustle can be done within the required time limits; it just calls for good planning and a little organisation. In a macabre way, Zimbabwe is lucky that some of those who have suffered Covid-19 and survived have begun to tell their harrowing stories. These should serve as warnings to those who foolishly don’t fear Covid-19 but fear the police instead.