Chamisa urges govt to treat returning citizens well

Nelson Chamisa
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HARARE – MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa says Government must treat with ‘respect and dignity’ the 65 returnees from the UK who yesterday had a standoff with authorities as they demanded ‘posh’ quarantine at a hotel while refusing to stay at the hostels of Harare teachers’ college.

Government officials said the 65 individuals refused to be accommodated at Belvedere Teachers’ College, saying they could spend the next 21 days of quarantine at a hotel on their own resources.

However, most hotels have since suspended bookings and Government could only transfer them to alternative accommodation at the University of Zimbabwe.

While many Zimbabweans criticized the returnees for demanding luxury at a time of crisis, Chamisa said Government had a duty to listen to the concerns of all its citizens.

“During this difficult time, we must treat each other with kindness and empathy,” said Chamisa. “While the government must safeguard citizens, we urge the treatment of returning citizens with respect and dignity.

“We must avoid conduct that leads to stigmatisation and vitriol against fellow citizens,” he added.

There were reports that the returnees, who arrived earlier yesterday aboard an Ethiopian Airlines jet, were complaining that the hostels had no running water and bathrooms were going to be shared, which could expose them to infections from each other since they were coming from the UK, a known coronavirus hotspot.

The UK is one of the coronavirus hotspots in Europe, with over 16,500 having died to date while over 124,000 are infected.

Chamisa added: “While returning citizens must be placed in mandatory quarantine, conditions of living must be decent and habitable.

“Quarantine is not punishment. We urge gvt to ensure adequate testing facilities and that there is fair and equal treatment of every person regardless of their status.”

However, other Zimbabweans countered that the Belvedere Teachers College hostels are used by students from all classes every school term without complaints.

Officials on the ground told the Zimbabwe Voice that even after Harare City Council rushed and reconnected the water at the facility, the returnees still insisted on hotel quarantine.

Nick Mangwana, the Government spokesperson, later on advised that police were called in to watch over the group of 65 as the standoff remained unresolved late into the night.

“The travellers from the UK will spend tonight at Belvedere Teachers’ College. Police are there to ensure that noone will break the law of the land,” Mangwana said. – Zimbabwe Voice