EDITORIAL COMMENT

THE decision by some artistes to defy a ban on large gatherings put in place by government is regrettable. It defies logic to be precise and flies in the face of serious efforts to stem the tide of the virulent coronavirus (COVID-19), which has already claimed the country’s first casualty in the form of young broadcaster Zororo Makamba.

We cannot take lightly this disease, which is decimating lives and economies across the world and those who think we are safe need to think again. Given that our health delivery system is on life support, we cannot afford to joke around because once one person is infected, the virus begins to move silently from one person to the next and very fast.

To gather people together for a music show or a birthday party is reckless and irresponsible behaviour because if only one person among them has been in contact with an infected person, then all the revellers are likely to contract it as well.

Countries all over the world are going into lockdown to try and contain the spread of the virus. Those countries that were lackadaisical and slow in their response to the threat posed by the virus will pay the price and no one is safe. We, therefore, cannot condone such irresponsible behaviour by our so-called celebrities and those who stand by them in risking the lives and well-being of other people.

Zimbabwe’s means to fight this disease are limited, but if we work together with the authorities and co-operate, we can conquer it.

We do appreciate that artistes such as dancehall chanter Killer T, rhumba musician Madiz, Terry Mbofana and comic dancer Apama need to make money through their art, but how is the money going to help them in the event that they contract COVID-19? Why risk the lives and health of thousands of their followers just to make a few pennies?

Artistes should actually be at the forefront of spreading the message of safety and protection given their extensive influence and the huge following they command. But it is unfortunate that some have chosen to defy orders that are meant to ensure that their health and that of their fans is safeguarded.

The continued holding of shows in this environment is a lack of wisdom because it puts the lives of people at risk. All efforts should be directed at minimising such risk. We encourage these artistes and their handlers to think through their decisions at a time many other countries have put their creative sectors on a “lockdown” to slow down the spread of the highly-infectious disease.

These artistes should have taken a cue from their colleagues like sungura maestro Alick Macheso, Selmor Mtukudzi and Sulumani Chimbetu, who have cancelled their shows until further notice to help combat the spread of COVID-19. This is the way to go in the current environment as it minimises the spread of the disease.

Artistes have a privileged position in society which they should actually use to teach and inform others about the need to cut down on unnecessary travels, upgrading health habits, practising self-safety and self-restriction where necessary. To continue holding live shows in this environment will only put lives in danger, and we need to avoid that as much as possible. Zimbabwe still has a great chance to defeat this beast if we take the necessary radical and painful steps to protect citizens.