Zimbabwe's economy cautiously opens up, but land borders remain closed

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday effectively opened up the economy — albeit cautiously — after a two-month national lockdown due to Covid-19.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday effectively opened up the economy — albeit cautiously — after a two-month national lockdown due to Covid-19.
Image: Marianne Schwankhart

Zimbabwe’s land borders will remain closed, despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday effectively opening up the economy — albeit cautiously — after a two-month national lockdown due to Covid-19.

Hard-pressed to breathe life into the economy, with annual inflation of 300% and a failing local dollar, the president said industry would open “with strict adherence to World Health Organisation set standards and national Covid-19 regulations”.

One company that has felt the economic bite is Edgars, which said in a statement that the lockdown “has denied business two months of normal trading” despite the company introducing online sales.

Sales went down by 36.5% while its Jet division saw a 29% fall.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), an umbrella body representing the private sector, this week released a report on companies and their attitude towards the vaccination programme. According to the report, 76% of companies in the manufacturing sector are willing to vaccinate workers and their families, but 24% are only willing to cover workers and their spouses.

But Mnangagwa said those companies willing to take that route should be prepared to offer vaccines for free for their workers.

Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector employs between 80,000 and 100,000 people and contributes 9% to 11% of exports and 12% to 14% of the country’s GDP.

Mnangagwa said the decision to relax the lockdown was because “the number of Covid-19 cases, fatalities and hospitalisation continue to steadily decrease”.

“But we must, however, remain alert and on guard to maintain this positive momentum.”

On Sunday, there were 30 new cases and no deaths reported. In total, 18,843 front-line workers had been vaccinated.

Zimbabwe last week received a donation of 200,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, and 400,000 more doses are expected next week — half of those another donation. Zimbabwe will then buy 1.8 million doses from China.

Mnangagwa said the UK was one of the leading Western nations that had pledged to provide vaccines.

Below are the key highlights of the relaxed measures:

  • curfew moved to 10pm to 5.30am (from 8pm)
  • movement letters no longer required, because people may move freely
  • intercity travel allowed
  • supermarkets may stay open up to 7pm (from 5pm)
  • restaurants to open for takeaways
  • social gatherings limited to 50 people and funerals limited to 30 people
  • beerhalls, nightclubs and gyms remain closed
  • schools and colleges to prepare for opening.

TimesLIVE


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