President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has suspended the sale of alcohol as a means to get citizens to focus on mitigating against the rising tide of COVID 19 cases.
In his recent announcement, he said there is a clear link between the intake of alcohol and the failure by South Africans to adhere to the lockdown regulations required to save themselves from the deadly effects of the global pandemic.
The script could be taken word for word and transplanted into the bustling mining town of Zvishavane where it will ring very true.
Bars have reopened and with them, life seems to have crept back to what it was before. This is despite the fact that they should remain closed under the lockdown regulations.
The Great Dyke News 24 team spoke to one bar owner who took pride in how patrons have come back in numbers in celebration of the reopening of drinking halls.
He admits that most patrons seem oblivious of the dangers of COVID 19 and the understanding that the mining town is particularly vulnerable due to its high population density and the mobility of residents.
“We have to survive with or without COVID 19. In any case, everyone has opened and who am I to remain closed. The law says patrons can seat, so we have laid tables and so patrons are enjoying beers while sitting. True, Zvishavane is a small town but so far we are safe,” he said.
Ironically a day later two nurses at the local hospital were found to be Covid-19 positive.
The Great Dyke News crew observed that after a few beers patrons seem to forget about masks which they happily shove into their pockets. As the night progresses social distance also becomes a distant thought as individuals move closer in their indulgence of local gossip and unadulterated joy as they watch European football which has returned to the screens.
Everyone knows about Covid-19 but no one seems to care about the risk it poses.
“What Covid-19. The disease is for you guys in Harare. We are fine here,” many told the news team when asked about whether they were adopting recommended measures to stop the disease.
The scenes in Zvishavane bars and shops suggest that the enforcement of Covid rules is driven more by a desire to please people than to ensure truant behavior is severely dealt with.
In fact, policemen and soldiers have become recipients of daily doses of free booze, food, and all their heart’s desires. With the abundance of the United States dollars in the mining town, residents have learnt that the best way to corrupt the law is to ensure that its enforcers are spoilt drunk.
While the local view is that the economy must come first there is little thought on the possible negative effects of how COVID 19 may slow down productivity and ultimately harm the very same economy as the pandemic continues.
If there is anything to be learnt from Covid19, it is that it pays no respect to a society that does not wear masks and lacks social distance. Zvishavane may soon find out the hard truth.