Comparing notes of the actions and reactions of world leaders in this critical times – some world leaders were polite and sensitive, others justified lockdown and were insentitive – some even enforced it with force.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an emotive and polite plea sought the nation’s forgiveness for imposing a monumental lockdown on the country, but said “we have to win … and we will definitely win the battle” against the unprecedented menace of coronavirus that has claimed 25 lives in India so far.
In his words: “I seek forgiveness .. I am sure you will forgive me that you had to undergo so much trouble. Some people will say what kind of prime minister is this but these are special circumstances. You had to undergo problems I understand but there is no other way out to fight the coronavirus,” he said. “But this is a battle for life and death.”
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa was applauded for being brave and decisive but not sensitive to the plight of the people. Some South Africans say his lockdown speech was more capitalist than populist.
“I am concerned that a rapid rise in infections will stretch our health services beyond what we can manage and many people will not be able to access the care they need. We must, therefore, do everything within our means to reduce the overall number of infections and to delay the spread of infection over a longer period – what is known as flattening the curve of infections”.
To many South Africans, he was their man; to some, the speech was elitist.
LOCKDOWN DOWN ENFORCEMENT MEASURES
In Kenya, police fired tear gas at the people as the first day of movement restrictions glided into a chaos.
In South Africa, a similar event occurred – a soldier was seen beaten and kicking a man violently, whilst minimal force was also used to disperse the crowd who were defiant to social distancing and lockdown law in some parts of Central Johannesburg.
SOLDIER BEATIN MAN IN SOUTH AFRICA VIDEO
Police allegedly screamed at homeless people in downtown Johannesburg and went after some with batons. Some people claimed the police use rubber bullets against them. About 55 people were arrested across the country within 24 hours of lockdown.
South African soldiers also raided a large workers’ hostel in the Alexandra township where some residents had defied the lockdown.
Defiance of lockdown law is unlawful yet caution must be exercised before the people are blamed – it was an unexpected situation – some people had to adjust gradually.
In Rwanda, two people were shot dead in a lockdown-defiance scuffle though the police claimed they attacked police officers.
Zimbabwean police were heavily criticized by human rights groups for forceful and violent crackdowns.
Kenya was alleged to have also applied unconstitutional forceful measures that saw many people being beaten and assaulted by the police ahead of the curfew.
According to Amnesty International: “We were horrified by excessive use of police force. “We continue to receive testimonies from victims, eyewitnesses and video footage showing police gleefully assaulting members of the public in other parts of the country.”
Kenya’s interior ministry said: “is meant to guard against an apparent threat to public health. Breaking it is not only irresponsible but also puts others in harm’s way.”
In Ugandan, two people were allegedly shot on Friday for violating restrictions on transport in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. Though the police claimed the two men attempted to attack police officers.