Coronavirus: Zimbabwe tobacco auctions hang by a thread

Rudo Boka

Government last week invoked extraordinary regulations that do not allow gatherings of more than 100 people, as it takes pre-emptive measures to prevent the outbreak the novel coronavirus.

The coronavirus spreads through person-to-person contact.

Early last week, the TIMB wrote to the Ministry of Health and Child Care seeking expert advice on how to proceed.

The tobacco auction floors often witness an influx of farmers during the marketing season.

The declaration of a state of national disaster on Tuesday last week was followed by an order for all schools, colleges and universities to close by Tuesday this week.

TIMB chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri told The Sunday Mail Business that the board was still waiting for direction from Government.

“We have written to them and we are awaiting the response,” said Dr Matibiri.

“Our decision to engage them was premised on the fact that there is a call to minimise large crowds, so we are just waiting to get expert advice and I am sure that will be very soon,” he said.

In his letter to tobacco industry stakeholders dated March 16, Dr Matibiri indicated that the marketing season is characterised by movement and congregation of thousands of farmers at tobacco selling points both in and outside Harare.

“With this prevailing pandemic in mind, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has written to the Ministry of Health and Child Care seeking an urgent response for leadership and guidance on measures that industry stakeholders should institute to prevent or control any real and potential outbreaks of the disease,” reads the letter. – Sunday Mail