What will 2021 bring?
We had hopes for the re-opening of all the library’s services early in 2021, but instead, we are faced with further closures, thanks to the second wave of Covid 19. Schools were due to open in mid-January, and we had our book boxes all ready to go to our partner schools. But just after New Year, government announced an indefinite delay for the opening of the school year, and a new lockdown which has caused us to close the library again. Even Study Circle activities will be reduced, as travel is restricted and a curfew in place. In the photo below - some aspiring readers are disappointed to find the library closed.
It appears that the second wave of the pandemic is hitting Zimbabwe much harder than the first, with numbers of cases soaring in spite of a very low rate of testing being carried out. But the strikes of health personnel are over, and the hospitals currently better equipped than they were in 2020. And in spite of government having no funds for purchases of vaccines, they are already making plans to carry out vaccinations. Doses supplied through the Covax programme supported by the WHO should reach health care workers before June, and the entire population should be vaccinated by the end of the year. The African Union announced this week that they have also secured hundreds of millions of vaccine doses which can be obtained through a loan programme. No specific dates have been given to begin vaccinating, but at least Zimbabweans can look to a time before the middle of the year when vaccinations may begin to tame the pandemic.
Meanwhile, day-to-day living seems as bad as it has ever been, in spite of the good rains which have fallen in most parts of the country since early December. We are still in the lean period before the harvest comes in, and severe hunger is widespread. Break-ins are now less likely to be to steal items that can be sold such as TVs and laptops, and more likely to be to find food. Many people are desperate. People’s ability to earn any income in the informal economy during the lockdown is greatly restricted, and a daily fight for survival is evident. Nevertheless, the harvest will come in March and April, and another promising sign is the stabilization of the currency in the last six months. Inflation continues due to shortages but perhaps people can dare to hope that when the virus is conquered a better future will beckon for all.
At the library, we are poised to go into full-scale operations as soon as the lockdown is lifted and schools re-open.