Zimbabwe has so far recorded seven cases of coronavirus, including one fatality.
In an address to mark first day of the lockdown, Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans except those that work in critical sectors like health to act responsibly by staying at home to stop further spreading of the disease.
“This 21-day lockdown is not a punishment, it cannot be avoided. It is an opportunity to save lives. We have 21 days right now to save thousands of lives. And how will we save those thousands of lives? By acting responsibly and by staying at home. By washing your hands and by keeping at least a 2 metre-distance from one another.
“I want all of you to spend the next 21 days acting as if you already have the virus, as if you are a carrier. Would you want to infect your friends? Would you want to infect your countrymen? Of course not! So keep your distance-two metres away from each other. Don’t touch your face. Again, wash your hands. Stay at home,” he said.
Mnangagwa said it was paramount for citizens to heed the lockdown.
“We have been witness to the tragedy unfolding before us, nation after nation. With the virus already here in Zimbabwe, we have no time to lose; we must act now,” he said.
“For every day we do not act, for every day we continue our lives as normal, the virus will spread, infecting more and more people,” he added.
He said the lockdown decision was a difficult one to make and had repercussions especially on the country’s economy.
“We have an opportunity to ensure that this challenge, which currently exists, does not become insurmountable. Many countries tragically reacted too late. And today they are facing the consequences.
“As your President, I have chosen to tackle this challenge before it becomes a problem of insurmountable proportions,” he said.
“This was not an easy decision to make. But this is the right decision. Our economy will survive. Our economy will recover. But right now, nothing is more dear to me, nothing is more sacrosanct, than the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. We can emerge from this a strong and healthy nation,” he added.
On the strength of medical advice that infections could spike in the approaching winter if drastic precautionary action was not taken immediately,Mnangagwa declared a total lockdown of the country for the next three weeks.
Mnangagwa said during the 21- day lockdown, the government would do its part of equipping hospitals and medical staff to ensure they manage the coonavirus outbreak.
“During these 21 days, Government will work tirelessly to make sure that we are ready to face all scenarios. We must make sure that our medical team are equipped and protected, and that our hospitals are well prepared. That our citizens are ready,” he said.
He said while the security forces would be out to enforce the lockdown measures, citizens should voluntarily adhere to the set down rules.
“I repeat, if you need to leave your homes to buy food and medicines, you will be able to do so. The security sector will be enforcing the lockdown with a listening ear. Their job is to help, to protect and to keep us all safe.
“But my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters, all this is in your hands. I know it is not easy,” he said.-New Ziana