PEDDLERS or originators of falsehoods claiming that the Government had extended the national lockdown by any time-frame face a 20-year jail term if caught, President Mnangagwa warned yesterday, adding that he had since ordered an investigation into the origins of such messages circulating on social media.
The President said this at his Precabe Farm in Sherwood, Kwekwe, after returning from a tour of Mkoba and Senga suburbs in Gweru to assess residents’ levels of compliance to regulations of the current 21-day lockdown
He hinted that Cabinet would meet on the 20th of this month to review whether or not to extend the 21-day national lockdown which expires early next week.
The President dismissed as nonsensical, reports that were doing the rounds on social media purporting that he had extended the lockdown, saying he alone cannot extend without first consulting with his two Vice Presidents and Cabinet.
“I am supposed to make an official statement if we are going to extend the lockdown. I have never made such a statement and that social media statement is absolute nonsense. We now have a law, which punishes those who produce fake news and I have ordered an investigation into those behind the fake statement and if found, we want that person to be an example by getting up to 20 years in prison. It’s bad to peddle falsehoods, especially about a President,” he said.
The President said he and his two deputies would be touring provinces to get an appreciation of the situation on the ground and only then will they sit down and review the lockdown.
He said he would tour at least five provinces to get first-hand information on what is happening on the ground and the effects of the lockdown before the review meeting.
“We shall review the situation on the 20th of April on whether we adjust the lockdown conditions or we extend. It’s a question of a collective discussion after we tour the provinces and get first-hand information on the obtaining situation. I will do my level best to sample at least five provinces on my own, but I have my two Vice Presidents, they will also tour some of the provinces so that we share views as we move forward.”
President Mnangagwa said it was however, better to sacrifice the economy in a bid to save lives by preventing the spread of Covid-19, as he stressed on the need to stay home.
He said the economy can still be rebuilt, but there were no ways anyone could resuscitate life once it was lost.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are suffering socially and economically and the effects are being felt worldwide.
“We, however, have to do our best to preserve life, which is the most precious. If a life is lost that is the end of it, but we can always reconstruct our economy,” he said.