A viral social media on Tuesday claimed President Emmerson Mnangagwa had directed landlords and landladies not to demand payments from their tenants during the 21-day lockdown, which ends on April 19.
By Moses Matenga
The statement had sparked celebrations from tenants and panic from landlords.
The message, purportedly on a government letterhead, ordered landlords who had already received rentals to reimburse their tenants by Friday.
It warned that those that did not heed the message would face the law.
But Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba cleared the air, saying the message was fake and did not originate from the President’s office.
“There is a fake press statement purportedly bearing an authentic signature of the state President and purporting to direct property owners on rentals. The statement has nothing to do with the President or his office and actually passes for criminal conduct. Kindly disregard it,” Charamba said.
He said the police are investigating the origins of the statement.
The suggestion to have landlords stop demanding rentals during the lockdown period was reportedly mooted by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe in a leaked correspondence to its members.
It was, however, rejected by the government as it was agreed that the state should not interfere in “civil contracts” according to government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana.
“Certainly the President has not issued a moratorium on the payment of rentals,” Mangwana said.
“The COVID-19 Task Force discussed this request from some citizens and concluded that the government cannot interfere with this civil contract under the current laws.”