There have been high hopes that “non-essential” businesses would be allowed to open as the current phase of Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021 ended on Monday, 15 February 2021. In his address to the nation on the same day, President Mnangagwa announced four significant changes, but the announcement also generated confusion around the reopening of “non-essential” businesses. The publication of SI 42/2021 on the same day formalised three of the changes.
Once again, Big Sky attempts to make sense of Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021 …
WHAT HAS CHANGED DURING THIS PHASE OF ZIMBABWE LOCKDOWN 2021?
There are three principal changes stated in SI 42/2021 published on Monday, 15 February, the same day as the President’s announcement:
- The Level IV national lockdown is extended to midnight of 1 March 2021
- Curfew has been shortened, now 20:00 to 05:30 (from 18:00 to 06:00)
- Business hours for supermarkets and other essential services are extended, now 08:00 to 17:00 (from 08:00 to 15:00).
However, during his announcement on 15 February, the president also stated: “Those in the informal sector may only open once they have satisfied WHO protocols.” This implies that the informal markets may operate (conditionally), even though not stated in SI 42/2010.
In the public announcement on the lockdown extension, the President also stated, “All private companies seeking resumption of operations should test their employees in compliance with WHO protocols.” There is no reference to “private companies” in SI 200/2020 (the consolidated lockdown order), or SI 10/2021 or SI 42/2021 published on 15 February.
We are left wondering whether private companies seeking resumption of operations refers to companies that have been closed during the lockdown that commenced on 5 January, including non-essential services? Any clarification will be published here.
TRAVEL BY ESSENTIAL SERVICES WORKERS
As before, workers in the Essential Services sector are to carry copies of the Lockdown Exemption Letter issued to their company/organization, and a letter on the company/organization’s letterhead. As there has been no statement from ZRP to the contrary, it appears letters issued for the initial period of the lockdown will continue to be accepted during the current extension.
Lockdown Exemption Letter:
According to the “Final Revised Ministry Statement, 4 January 2021”: “Companies in the manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, retail, commerce, tourism and hospitality industry are advised to make use of the Lockdown Exemption letters previously issued by Ministries of Industry and Commerce and Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry for the next seven (7) working days, during which companies should renew their exemption letters.”
And: “Regarding the Tourism and Hospitality industry, Agriculture and Mining the companies in these sectors should get their Exemption letters from their respective parent Ministries.”
The press statement issued by ZRP on 4 January 2021, states: “Movement and exemption letters will now be issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce”
This implies that “Do It Yourself” letters/affidavits stamped by ZRP will not be accepted at the checkpoints, and only a Ministry issued letter will be accepted. Given the massive pressure and (unhealthy) congestion at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce offices, we expect other entities to approach their respective ministries, including Tourism, Agriculture, etc. (Also see Notes, below).
According to the “Final Revised Ministry Statement, 4 January 2021”, the employers’ letter should include:
- Employee name and ID number
- The points of commute
- Company line of business/products and state how that is covered by the Statutory Instruments
- Working hours, and shifts where necessary
- The letter should be signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Managing Director (MD)
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) in another of their very useful updates, published a suggested template for the employer’s letter. (For a copy of the CZI update, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
INTER-CITY TRAVEL DURING ZIMBABWE LOCKDOWN 2021
Inter-city travel during Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021 is still restricted. ZUPCO remains the sole authorised public transporter. Members of the public can still only travel on essential service and must carry documentation or similar proving the purpose of the trip. Where practical, we recommend not more than one person in a vehicle, to avoid the appearance of ‘holidaying’. If more than one passenger is travelling, all must be carrying ‘letters’.
Checkpoints typically accept up to 4 passengers in a vehicle with both front and rear seats, and 2 passengers in a pick-up/truck with front seats only. Every occupant of the vehicle must wear a mask.
HOLIDAY AND RECREATIONAL TRAVEL
The Health Minister’s public announcement on 2 January, 2021, said, “Tourist facilities and national parks will operate as before subject to the usual health precautions”. Given the Health Minister’s ruling it is a given that tourists must travel to their holiday destination, and the great majority will travel by road.
However, the continued operation of the “tourist facilities and national parks” is not explicitly provided for in SI 10/2021 nor SI 42/2021. We therefore advise domestic tourists travelling by road to carry hardcopies of your accommodation bookings AND a copy of the Health Minister’s “Lockdown Statement, 2 January, 2021”. (For a copy of the MoH statement, email email@example.com).
TRAVEL BY DOMESTIC STAFF
Once again there is no reference in any Statutory Instrument, ZRP or ministerial statement to travel by domestic staff or any persons employed by a “non-commercial entity”. As previous, we recommend employers prepare a letter based on the formal employer’s letter (see above), supported by an affidavit stating the purpose of the travel and stamped at your local police station.
There is no reference in SI 10/2020 making it a requirement for motorists to carry letters stamped by ZRP. Based on inter-city travel during the 2020 lockdown periods, provided the motorists’ documents were in order, ZRP stamped letters were neither requested nor expected. However, given the pressure on the various ministries, we understand employers and travellers are approaching police stations with a letter and supporting affidavit, and being assisted.
Under no circumstances should you pay for either Exemption Letters or police stamps.
These notes are provided for guidance only and should be read with the Public Health Order (COVID-19) and subsequent amendments. We welcome any feedback, kindly email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ZRP CONTACT NUMBERS
To report cases of harassment and attempts to solicit bribes at lockdown checkpoints or at police station level, contact:
ZRP Police General Head Quarters – Internal Investigations. 2005 Fife Avenue, corner Enterprise Road, Harare: (0242) 702083 / 707702 (Office hours only. After office hours call PGHQ, number below).
ZRP Police General Head Quarters, Harare: (0242) 703631 (24-hour)
– PGHQ, Harare Anti-Corruption members will take calls from all over the country, referring you to the most appropriate personnel in your area, where necessary. Senior members of the Zimbabwe National Army are coordinating anti-corruption efforts with their counterparts in PGHQ.
ZRP Provincial Operations, Matabeleland: (0292) 885479 (24-hour)
ZRP Provincial Public Relations: (0292) 260358 (Office hours) – Contact for assistance with incidents throughout Matabeleland
Sean Q. and the BIG SKY TEAM
Howard Dean, publisher of BIZ Bulletin and Labour Relations Information Service. Subscription inquiries to email@example.com
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI). (024) 2251496
Published 06 January 2021