AD458: Zimbabweans endorse government’s COVID-19 response but voice concerns about corruption and lack of assistance

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Stephen Ndoma, Simangele Moyo-Nyede, and Jonathan Kugarakuripi

Zimbabwe has not been spared the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 16 June 2021, the country had recorded 40,077 confirmed cases and 1,635 deaths of COVID-19 (World Health Organization, 2021). Lockdowns have threatened many households with destitution and hunger (News24, 2021).

The government pre-emptively declared COVID-19 a national disaster on 17 March 2020, three days before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed, and a week later closed schools until phased reopenings starting in September (Mukeredzi, 2020). A nationwide lockdown in March-April 2020 was followed by slightly relaxed sets of restrictions, then reimposed in January 2021 after a surge in COVID-19 cases. About 1,107,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the country (World Health Organization, 2021).

Enforcement of lockdown restrictions has been harsh, marked by arrests of suspected violators and accusations of human-rights abuses by members of the country’s military and police (Zimbabwe Peace Project, 2021; Amnesty International, 2020).

A new Afrobarometer survey shows that even though almost half of Zimbabweans say their household lost a primary source of income during the pandemic, most citizens approve of the government’s overall management of the pandemic. Most Zimbabweans endorse lockdowns and school closures as painful but necessary.

But very few report receiving pandemic-related assistance from the government, and a majority believe that COVID-19 resources were lost to government corruption. A majority doubt the government’s ability to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and fewer than half say they are likely to try to get vaccinated.