Mirriam Madiye and Ivan Zhakata
Zimbabweans of the Christian faith will for the next four days, join their fellow believers across the world in celebrating the Easter holidays starting with Good Friday today, albeit under unusual circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic which authorities are battling hard to contain.
Traditionally, this is a period when families get to spend time with their loved ones and this will remain the case for most people amid calls from authorities for the public to avoid unnecessary travel to control the spread of the virus.
Last year, the Easter holiday coincided with the announcement of the first national 21-day lockdown, which was enforced beginning March 31, preventing most people from travelling.
However, it was a hive of activity in most parts of the country yesterday as people did their last-minute shopping ahead of the long weekend that runs from today to Monday.
With churches heeding Government’s call not to gather in numbers beyond 50, many people will follow church proceedings online, implying many people will spend most of their time at home.
Supermarkets were filled with people doing their shopping for the holiday while at Mbare bus terminus, many people were seen waiting to get transport to their rural homes to visit their families and relatives.
Most people said they would spend the holidays with their families, but following the laid down Covid-19 control regulations.
Mrs Lilian Musapuri said she would spend the holiday at home with her family since her eldest son was visiting her from Marondera where he works.
“This year I am happy that my eldest son and his family are coming to spend the Easter holiday with me. It has been a long time since we spent some time together and I am also happy that I will be meeting my grandchildren and my daughter-in-law.
“Today, I am doing this shopping so that when they come, we will be home and there will be no unnecessary movements.”
Anotidaishe Nyoni from Hopley said she was planning to visit her family in Kwekwe.
“I came to Harare because of work and it has been long since I visited my parents because of the lockdown but now I am happy that I can visit them,” she said.
Tatenda Mbasera said he would spend the holiday with his family at home in the Avenues area of Harare.
“I will make sure that I stay home with my family. I think we are going to have some refreshments and braai with my wife and children,” he said.
Churches will not be hosting their traditional large Easter processions and gatherings, keeping the number attending each service to below the 50 limit imposed by Government under lockdown rules.
The limit was about as far as health authorities could advise the Government to go when the level four lockdown was relaxed by President Mnangagwa at the beginning of March.
Although Easter is the most important festival on the Christian calendar, Government decided to maintain the limit on gatherings to avoid a third wave of infections.
Churches will continue using virtual meetings, with only a limited number of congregants gathering on Easter Sunday.
Easter is commemorated by Christians in remembrance of Jesus Christ who sacrificed his life for the salvation of humanity.
Churches on Wednesday said they would observe Covid-19 regulations fully to prevent the spread of infections and called on Zimbabweans to be strong and not lose hope.
Pastor George Kaseke of Glad Tidings Fellowship’s Dzivaresekwa Assembly yesterday said: “All I can say is that the commemoration of the death of Christ for us during this period should make believers appreciate and value life.
“His death and resurrection gave us life and hope of overcoming in life.”
Mrs Tilda Mapfumo from Mabvuku said: “Easter will not be the same. We thought this year things will be like the yester years, but we were wrong.”
Covid-19, she said, was a big blow to people of faith.
“It is during these church gatherings that most Christians’ spirits are revived. People would come out of these gatherings revived and brand new,” said Mrs Mapfumo.
She added that for now, there is nothing people can do except follow virtual meetings as Covid –19 is real.
“We will keep on praying from our homes so that God hears our prayers and remove this disease that has affected our lives so much,” she added.
Tapiwa Moyo highlighted that the move was good as gatherings are a concern.
“The pandemic has changed the setup of everything with a blink of an eye. This has cost us so much as we are used to gathering in huge numbers.
At the same time, this is a good move as we cannot let our guard down. This is to safeguard human lives. When people gather in their numbers to celebrate most forget to observe the Covid-19 regulations and rules,” said Moyo.
“We may complain, but this could be a blessing in disguise. Everyone will have an opportunity to reflect and also have time to bond with family and friends.”
Gertrude Dube of Mufakose said commemorating Easter from home will be an opportunity to have virtual church gatherings.
“We will have the opportunity of listening to the pastor delivering the sermon.
“I urge other Christians to turn their homes into prayer houses and revive their spirits like we used to do before the pandemic. It is only a change of place, but what has to be done must be done,” said Dube.
She added that people should not let the pandemic destroy their hopes for the future.
National police spokesperson Assistant Paul Nyathi said there would be tight security during the Easter holidays and implored people to adhere to the lockdown regulations announced by President Mnangagwa.
“As the nation commemorates Easter Holiday, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) reminds members of the public that the Government’s Covid-19 regulations announced by His Excellency, Head of State and Government and the Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa on the 30th of March 2021 will be enforced without fear or favour,” he said.
“The police will ensure that all visitors to the country comply with the safety and health measures pronounced by President Mnangagwa. No movements to and from boarding schools by either parents or pupils will be allowed.
“May I take this opportunity to warn bar and nightclub operators that they must religiously comply with the Government’s directive to remain closed. Anyone who disregards the directive will be dealt with in terms of the country’s laws.”
Ass Comm Nyathi said those taking advantage of the public by offering fake Covid-19 vaccination certificates would be severely dealt with by the police.
“The public should seriously take note of the government’s advice to defer unnecessary travel in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and contribute towards the maintenance of law and order in the country.”