With thousands of citizens hunkered in their homes the normally busy Mbare Musika market resembles a ghost area.
A deafening silence in the popular bus terminus coupled with a countable number of ‘brave’ individuals roaming around the suburb definitely tells the calamity that Covid-19 poses.
Vendors and hawkers who usually long packed their wares in preparation for the 21 day coronavirus lockdown.
“Traders were last seen in the market on Sunday, those who took the decree as a mere talk returned on Monday only to be ordered off by law enforcement agents. Prevention is better than cure, it is a global issue for sure, who would think that Mbare Musika will one day shut down,” said one security guard
The eerie calm did not spare residential areas as children were locked inside homes.
“Coronavirus is real as you can see no children are playing outside. Parents have heeded the call to have their children under lock,” said Silas Mundanda a senior citizen. “We once experienced this kind of disease a long time ago but not with this magnitude where people are locked in their homes.”
Whilst the main bus terminus was a pale shadow of the noise and bustling that normally characterises the daily activity, there was a bit of life at the other bus terminus as middle aged man took time to play soccer in the empty bus station.
“Twenty one days seated at home is boring bro. We rather take time off the boring schedule and play soccer here.” said one young man
Despite patrols by municipal and Zimbabwe Republic police officers, the ‘footballers’ say they comply with police orders on for a while.
“Hakuna mabasa (There are no jobs) this lockdown has worsened things. We find ourselves playing chikweshe (plastic made ball), this keeps us active unlike spending the whole day holed up at home. Law enforcement officers do come and we comply with their orders but once they leave we are back again,” said another one identified as Blessing
Not to be outdone are foreign currency dealers who are pouncing on the few consumers making their way at a popular retail outlet. This, in full glare of the police officers manning entrance to the outlet.
“This is our hunting ground and we must be classified as essential services because we are assisting those who want to pay their goods in local currency with better rates than the 1:25 that is being offered in the supermarket,” said one dealer
A few metres from the forex dealers are farmers who are selling bananas. As to how the goods made their way despite government decree no one knows.
“I brought the bananas from Honde Valley and this is what brings food on my table. How they were brought here is none of your business,” said Chihera a trader.
Moments later municipal police pounce on the unsuspecting traders and their goods are confiscated.
“This has been happening since the beginning of the lockdown, it’s not new to us. We know that once they come they will not return and we also make sure that we recover our goods,” said a boastful Chihera.
The popular fruit and vegetable markets including the informal traders at bus terminuses and home industries were virtually locked.
In real terms Covid-19 is a historical calamity never observed by the current generation, it is a cocktail of both, threatening livelihoods and life.