The Sunday News
Fairness Moyana in Hwange
RESIDENTS in Hwange District have implored the Government to address the unavailability of mealie-meal in the area while also facilitating easier access to basic commodities to avoid violation of lockdown regulations.
Some people in the district said they have travelled more than 60 kilometres since the beginning of the lockdown on Monday last week looking for mealie-meal. The Government declared a 21-day national lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) which has been spreading in many countries around the globe.
However, residents told Sunday News that while they understood the need to stay indoors, there was nothing being done to ensure they access foodstuffs from local shops.
“The idea of the lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus is noble but its effective implementation is compromised when issues of access to basic commodities especially mealie-meal is not addressed. Most households have been without the commodity for weeks even before the lockdown. This is why we are seeing long queues as people jostle to buy mealie-meal from the only supermarket it is available in town,” said Mr Japhet Ndlovu.
Another resident who refused to be named said people were being forced to defy the lockdown so that they could work and get money to buy basics.
“We have no choice but to do this as our families rely on us for survival. Yes, we know the dangers but when you have no food in the house you are as good as dead particularly mealie-meal. Had businesses heard our cries and quickly intervened I don’t think people would be congregating at this shop the way they are doing now. What I think businesses should do is to bring basic commodities to the people by making them available and accessible within one’s locality. This way you will not see people putting their lives at risk like this,” said the resident.
When the Sunday News crew visited some of the shops, hundreds of people were queuing and not observing social distancing.
People from areas such as Dete, Mabale, Makwa, Matetsi and Lukosi are also flocking to Hwange Town to buy some of the commodities.
The challenge has been further exacerbated by the temporal closure of Pick n Pay Supermarket to allow for renovations after it was flooded sometime in February during heavy rains that pounded Hwange for hours. Residents also called on the Government to act on shops that have been taking advantage of the lockdown to effect wanton price increases.
“The way some shops including the so-called big ones are increasing prices is burdening the people. Imagine a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil which cost $189 before lockdown now costs $250 while mealie-meal has gone up from $70 to $270. Government should move in quickly to protect innocent people who are being ripped off by these greedy businesspeople,” said Ms Susan Hlatshwayo.