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AfricaCorona Virus

The plight of the poor during lockdowns designed for the affluent

By Tatenda Marwodzi

While the rich are staying in their homes, enjoying quality time with fully stocked pantries, the poor have no idea where their next meal will come from. With markets closed and no safety nets set up by local governments, the average family has no income to keep the lights on.

The lockdown was never designed for this marginalized group. Less than 48 hours after the start of the Zimbabwean lockdown, multitudes of people in urban areas could be seen thronging shops buying government-subsidized maize meal, the only commodity they can still afford from their meagre coffers.

The same picture was painted in rural parts, with hundreds ignoring social distancing recommendations, but rather gathering in areas where Christian missionaries are handing out food.

“People in rural areas are aware of Covid-19 but this issue is a challenge” commented Zimbabwe’s Secretary of Information after images of people in rural Gwangwadza centre emerged showing crowds stampeding for food handouts. “The affluent may be able to lock down for 21 days but it is futile if the poor don’t have the same protection,” observed world-renowned journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.

The elite were able to stock their pantries well in advance and they can afford to shop online in the comfort of their homes. The rich will benefit from the lockdown more than the poor ever will. While some African countries like South Africa and Rwanda have provided social safety nets for the masses, the same cannot be said for the rest of the continent.

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