‘It is cheaper to arrest than test for Coronavirus’ says Zimbabwe Presidential Spokesman Charamba

Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba

HARARE – Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba has urged Zimbabweans to stay at home and follow the lockdown rules so that they avoid being arrested because it is cheaper to arrest people that incur costs of testing them for the deadly Coronavirus.

Commenting on an article which bemoaned the arrest of citizens, Charamba (using his moniker Jamwanda) said, “PEOPLE GET EASILY TAKEN IN BY THIS FOOLISH NARRATIVE!! Of course, it’s far better, cheaper to arrest than to incur costs of testing suspected cases arising out of sheer recklessness and lack of lockdown enforcement.

“The kits have to be imported, and that means using foreign exchange!!! All to cope with individuals who willfully break lockdown rules?? Let’s get real!!!”

Charamba urged Zimbabweans to adhere to the laws to avoid a brush with the law.


“Stay at home; obey the lockdown rules and let’s see if any policeman/woman enters your yard to beat you up!!”

In March the government announced the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment, and Treatment) Regulations 2020. One of the sections deals with “false reporting during the national lockdown. It says:

14. For the avoidance of doubt any person who publishes or communicates false news about any public officer, official, or enforcement officer involved with enforcing or implementing the national lockdown in his or her capacity as such, or about any private individual that has the effect of prejudicing the State’s enforcement of the national lockdown, shall be liable for prosecution under section 31 of the Criminal law Code (“Publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state”) and liable to the penalty there provided, that is to say, a fine up to or exceeding twenty years or both.

Meanwhile, Information Secretary Ndabaningi Nick Mangwana has released a criterion that the government is currently using to determine the people that will be tested for Coronavirus.

The list was releases after the Ministry of health announced that it will be decentralising testing centres to all provinces.

Find the list below:

-All travelers into the country will be rapidly tested on arrival and PCR on before discharge from quarantine facilities

-People with influenza like symptoms

-All contacts of confirmed cases

-All patients with fever symptoms in health facilities

-All frontline healthcare workers

-Community deaths in areas where there is local transmission

-All the community around a cluster of cases

-All above 60s admitted with a chronic condition

-Those working during lockdown who were interfacing with the community including those in law enforcement, service providers and employees of retail businesses including petrol attendants

On Sunday the state-owned Sunday Mail reported that the country’s 10 provinces will soon have Covid-19 testing, referral and isolation centres, as members of the Cabinet taskforce were yesterday deployed to various stations countrywide to assess progress on readiness to combat the novel coronavirus.

This comes as the Global Fund last week released US$5 million to Zimbabwe out of the US$25 million that it has pledged to the country for the anti-Covid-19 fight.

To ease pressure on the country’s sole testing unit, the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory in Harare, 167 testing machines are expected to be installed countrywide from rural clinics to provincial hospitals, in a development that will increase the number of people tested for the virus.

Source – Byo24