Govt to decentralise tobacco floors under COVID-19 lockdown

Corona Virus
Corona Virus

Farai Mabeza

Tobacco sales are set to be held at different locations across the country after the government gazetted a new statutory instrument which gives the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement the authority to set up auction floors on any site to help adhere to social distancing requirements under the Coronavirus (COVID-19) national lockdown.

The statutory instrument is titled S.I. 94 of 2020 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 4).

“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law, the Minister responsible for agriculture may by order designate any site in Zimbabwe as a designated tobacco auction floor,” SI 94 of 2020 says.

Zimbabwe’s 2020 tobacco marketing season was set to start on April 22, but was in jeopardy due to the outbreak of COVID-19 which has led to strict social distancing regulations being implemented across the world.

According to SI 94 when an order designating a tobacco auction floor is made, the Minister responsible for agriculture shall cause notice of the effect of such order to be given as soon as may be in such manner as he or she thinks necessary for bringing it to the attention of all persons who, in his or her opinion, ought to have notice thereof.

Under the statutory instrument buyers and sellers at designated tobacco auction floors and employees of such designated tobacco auction floors have been classified as persons employed in an essential service.

The buyers and sellers at designated tobacco auction floors shall not remain on site for longer than is needed to complete the transactions for which they assembled.

SI 94 of 2020 also stipulates that with effect from the 20th April, 2020 employees in the manufacturing and mining sectors shall, before resuming work for the first time during the national lockdown, submit to screening and testing for the COVID-19 disease.

The employees shall at all times observe the social distancing rule at the workplace and wear protective masks. Employers shall make available hand sanitising liquid for use by employees and any other people.

Law enforcement agents have been empowered to disperse people where any undertaking or operation is not found to be a bona fide undertaking or operation of a manufacturer.

Persons employed in mining operations who ordinarily reside in accommodations provided around or adjacent to the mining operations shall be confined to such accommodations for the duration of the national lockdown except for the purpose of going to and from work.



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