President Mnangagwa, in a formal statement, has stressed that coronavirus responsible for the global outbreak of Covid-19 is a purely natural phenomenon, is no one’s fault and needs scientific solutions to prevent its spread.
He expressed empathy, solidarity and support for all countries already affected, and has strongly urged all Zimbabweans to follow strictly the medical advice already given while scientists work on solutions and the Government intensifies its already considerable efforts to prepare Zimbabwe to cope with any outbreak.
“This is the worst global pandemic in our lifetimes, perhaps the greatest threat to humanity since the great wars of the last century. We have all seen the news. We have all witnessed the tragic scenes in China, Iran, Italy and other countries around the world.”
He specifically urged Zimbabweans “to make sure that this is not our next Cyclone Idai”, referring to the last damaging natural phenomenon to hit Zimbabwe almost exactly a year ago when hundreds were killed, homes and infrastructure damaged and destroyed in Chimanimani and surrounding areas, and there was economic disruption whose effects are still afflicting the country.
The Presidential statement comes in the wake of off-the-cuff and personal remarks made at the weekend by Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri that have circulated widely on social media and have been misinterpreted in some circles as reflecting the views of Zimbabwe, its Government and its people.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was speaking at a Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association meeting in Chinhoyi on Saturday.
She said in Shona: “This coronavirus that has come are sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us. God is now punishing them now and they are staying indoors now, while their economy is screaming like what they did to ours by imposing sanctions on us. (US President) Trump should know that he is not God. They must face the consequences of coronavirus, so that they also feel the pain.”
But President Mnangagwa said: “We expect science to come up with solutions to this problem soon. Pandemics of this kind have a scientific explanation and like any other natural phenomena cannot be blamed on anyone and know no boundary. We send our condolences and our solidarity to all those who are already suffering; and strength and good health to those in need.”
Turning to Zimbabwe, he said the nation “must stand strong; strong and united; strong and vigilant”.
While Zimbabwe had so far been lucky, the nation had to act early, sensibly and could not rest on its laurels. The Government would prepare the health sector to the best of its abilities.
“We are working to ensure that our doctors and nurses have the necessary know-how and equipment to deal with this threat.”
The President appealed to every Zimbabwean “to look after each other and think especially about the weak and vulnerable”.
“Do not take unnecessary risks. Do not belittle this threat. And do not endanger your loved ones. My Government will do all in its power to protect the people. However, the ultimate responsibility lies with you, the people of Zimbabwe.”
He repeated the medical advice given around the world and in Zimbabwe.
“If you have a cough, a sore throat, a temperature, or if you feel unwell please stay away from crowds, please stay away from the elderly, and if you can, stay at home until all symptoms have disappeared. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and maintain best hygiene practices.”
He noted that Zimbabweans have suffered the effects of climate change, struggled through economic downturns and have faced many challenges.
“As we all work to build a new Zimbabwe and a new future, let us start by getting the basics right. Protect your health. Protect your families. Protect your people. God bless you all.”