THE fear of death and the deep longing for immortality is, according to philosopher and political theorist Thomas Hobbes every man’s desire — where every human sense is trained to avoid death at all cost.
In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, people are making efforts to defy the philosophy of Hobbes by having non-conformist suicidal tendencies, being complacent and having a serious happy-go-lucky approach to the pandemic.
This is despite the known handicap that the country has in terms of medical provisions while a good number of the country’s population cannot afford private doctors who demand an arm and leg just for consultation.
It is in this light that the Government has expressed disappointment at the blithely unconcerned attitude that the communities are exhibiting and has called on people to take the initiative and not wait until death knocks at their doors.
Individuals have therefore been called upon to step up their efforts to adhere to set Covid-19 regulations as they are shooting themselves in the foot by having a lackadaisical approach to protecting themselves and those around them.
This comes at a time when there is a surge in the number of deaths and new infections in the country caused by a wave of a new variant that has been reported in neighbouring South Africa and has been imported into the country through festive visits. The deadly new variant is feared to be spreading in Zimbabwe if citizens remain complacent.
The national co-ordinator of the Covid-19 response taskforce, Dr Agnes Mahomva, was at pains to explain why the citizens were refusing to adhere to safety measures put in place for their own protection.
“When you walk around the streets you can see that people are just not adhering to Covid-19 regulations. We talked about it a lot on television, radio you name it.
“Just walk around and see, people just could not be bothered, that is the biggest question to say why are Zimbabweans relaxed? It is not only happening in Zimbabwe, but elsewhere, the numbers of infection are going up in Europe and America, people are not doing what they are supposed to be doing,” she lamented.
Dr Mahomva said the Government has played its role to a large extent.
“That is the million-dollar question, why are communities not taking ownership? When the pandemic started, it was clear that the Government needed to step up and put in place preparation mechanisms, there was even a total lockdown so that we could prepare our hospitals and convert some into Covid-19 facilities, the Paris (Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals) and so on, ordering out test kits, everything, putting in place Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines.
That was Government’s role to put in place all plans, but at the same time upping their game with communication in communities so that they would take ownership,” she said.
Dr Mahomva said the second part of the response is about community and individuals’ responsibility and ownership that is vital.
“They need to take ownership. The communities and even you the media keep coming to Government to ask what is Government doing and we continue doing our best.
We had an emergency extraordinary taskforce yesterday (Wednesday) when we saw that there is not only a surge in cases but Cyclone Chalane was also coming and we had to set out guidelines on how we were going to do it. We had to identify command centres on standby.
That’s Government part, we have done everything, sent the messages but if you are in Chimanimani and you got all that messaging on warnings and you still stay at your home and then the cyclone comes and it washes away your roads and your home away then you ask what the Government is doing,” she said.
Dr Mahomva said that is the most unfortunate thing that Government will have put in place all the SOPs, guidelines that are continuously reviewed but people refuse to comply.
“I have just given an example of cases going up and the cyclone was coming, we had to see what else we had to do, but at the same time, communities and individuals need to step up and that is not just happening, that is where Zimbabwe is going wrong as the community is simply not taking ownership.
“You walk down the streets and ask someone whey they are not wearing a mask properly; you need to walk down the streets as a responsible citizen reminding each other. Even in the rural areas, chiefs must ask their subjects who will be moving about without masks why they are doing that and encourage them to wear them always,” she added.
Dr Mahomva said Zimbabwe was in the second phase of the pandemic response and expected people to be active because everything that needed to be put in place has been put in place for the community to now run with it.
She said the police have also stepped up their enforcement and there was a fresh announcement reminding people that the country was still on lockdown and have relaxed certain restrictions but many other things were still not allowed.
Dr Mahomva said Zimbabwean lockdown regulations do not need to be improved or tightened.
“Most of our restrictions do not need tightening up, they need to be adhered to. We are not supposed to be in these huge gatherings but people are doing it, then the question comes to say Government should be banning these gatherings, but they are not even allowed in the first place.
It is not about putting up new regulations but adhering to those that are already there. People must not be in gatherings of more than 100 people, they must keep social distance and wear masks. A lot of the things that they are doing are still not permitted but they are just not doing them. Yes, of course from the Government side we need to strengthen our enforcement,” she stressed.
The ultimate idea, according to Dr Mahomva is for people to play their part.
“If you are doing it because you are afraid of the police then it doesn’t quite do the job because when you see that there is no police officer around then you relax but if you take ownership, you do not have to wait for the police to do it or tighten anything.
“We told people from the beginning that you should not have these gatherings but you go on and do it, large funerals, hugging and all that, that is the biggest challenge. People were even asking us about the ports of entry, on what the Government was doing to contain the situation.
Remember when we opened the borders we announced three weeks before that we are preparing to open and the day before, that is when Statutory Instrument 282 was gazetted to say you are not allowed to pass if you do not have a valid Covid-19 certificate so if people are doing that and have certificates then it means the variant will not come to Zimbabwe.
“But what we are seeing is that there is corruption, people are just saying, ndichazotenga (Covid-19 certificate) ndave pa border which doesn’t help anyone as chances of bringing in the new variant are high,” she lamented.
The media has been identified as an important part of the community that is vital in aiding to get the virus under control through media messages.
“If we don’t act now, by the time we want to act it might be too late, people are waiting for the biggest disaster to happen and then adhere to what the Government has been saying,” she warned.