By Munyaradzi Hwengwere.
Scientific advice now point out that in the absence of a vaccine and effective treatment for Covid-19 countries must prepare for a new ‘normal’, characterised in the main by disrupted business, work and social patterns.
In this new normal, it must be expected that governments around the world will continue to frown upon large gatherings, open borders, music concerts, events, sporting competitions with fans and even congregation of believers for church service.
Zimbabwe is now moving towards her last days of the extended lockdown and many are eager and almost impatient to get back to their normal lives. Without playing prophet, it seems, these expectations will largely be dashed.
The economic costs of the lockdown cannot be wished away. As such some middle ground is likely to be found that ensures that productive work resumes while simultaneously minimising all unnecessary travel and maintaining the call for social distancing.
The question is: are individuals, families, businesses and society as a whole prepared for this long new normal which may go beyond year 2020?
How do we reorganise ourselves in this new normal? How do we even teach when schools could be breeding grounds of Covid-19?
No doubt there are many questions we could ask. The long and short of it is that we must think and act afresh.
Positives about coronavirus
To answer this we must start with the positives of the lockdowns. These we must try to maintain.
With disruptions of global supply networks and easy access to foreign goods, Zimbabweans have been reminded of the need to be self sufficient.
Over the years, migrations to cities and towns in search of the easy dollar had intensified. With Covid-19 the land back home has become valuable. The plot that many grew up on has regained lost value.
Lockdown or no lockdown,our stomachs have remained the same. They desire food. Either you grow the food yourself or buy it if you have the money in local or international markets.
With less jobs and less foreign currency the choice becomes limited to that within your means and capability. This may sound new, but many Zimbabwean families grew on the food their families grew.
Under lockdowns many have also realised that a lot of the costs incurred in day to day lives were unnecessary.
A full fuel tank can now go way longer than it used to. Yes, we have been forced to cut even the essential trips but so too the many which we could do without.
Rather than be victims of a consumptive society and falling to the trap of spending money in the many bars and restaurants that were literally growing on every street corner, we have had to repurpose our lives to the most essential and productive.
Even flashy cars have lost value in the absence of showing off these machines which have just become toys. It is wise to invest in productive assets that rarely lose value even in tough times.
After all are you not better off with a highly productive soya bean farm than a perenially parked Royce Rolls. Life has a way of teaching us the difference between vain and value.
Families have also found themselves spending more time together and building a collective future.
The rush imposed by society that had robbed us of the time to invest in a better future for the upcoming generations has suddenly vanished.
Now we must do that we must always have done. Do homework with kids. We now have time to talk with siblings and connect via zoom with friends and family in the diaspora.
The workplace has changed too. Since the Industrial age and the advent of boss-subordinate relationship, man was in the main a machine tobe clobbered to produce desired output.
With the need to work from home, the game has changed. Employees must now be productive without a boss shouting orders over them.
Bosses must trust employees who work from their homes. Clients and customers must structure new frames of working without resorting to the traditionalcarrot and stick method.
Trust, accountability, responsibility and empowerment have become concepts that must go beyond workshop. They require proof of practice.
In the area of technology we now must redirect resources away from luxury gargets to tools that enable remote teams to work seamlessly.
However, there are serious disruptions that societies and Zimbabwe in particular have to contend with.
Don’t miss the second installment of this article on GreatDykeNews24 tomorrow (28/04/20).