& Godknows Matarutse
SENIOR STAFF WRITERS
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa, pictured, yesterday pleaded with Zimbabweans to maintain their coronavirus discipline, while also encouraging the public not to lose hope as the country battles a deadlier second wave of the global pandemic.
The 78-year-old Zanu PF leader also urged citizens to remain united as authorities fight to curb spiralling Covid-19 deaths and infections in the country.
This comes as more and more Zimbabweans are succumbing to the virulent respiratory disease, with Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo becoming the latest high-profile figure to die from complications caused by the virus on Wednesday.
Speaking at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday, at the burial of the late Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba and liberation stalwart Morton Malianga, Mnangagwa encouraged Zimbabweans not to lose hope in the fight against the lethal respiratory disease.
“This is not time to be tired and to let our guard down in hopelessness. Learning from our departed heroes who brought our nation thus far, let us serve, fight on to flatten the curve and save lives.
“United with one common purpose, we will overcome and defeat Covid-19. We achieved our aspiration for independence and peace as a united people.
“Equally, with the current deadly war against this evil Covid-19 pandemic facing our nation, we will win as a united people,” Mnangagwa said.
“The present Covid-19 is stronger and spreads faster, hence we must be more vigilant, disciplined and shift our attitude and behaviour.
“Alive to the on-going reality, let us … not lose heart. Let us fight on and resolve to overcome. In our organisations, communities and families, social groups and communication platforms we must keep hope alive.
“It is also of paramount importance that we all follow the health and security protocols and procedures to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“I, therefore, urge all our people to continue to sanitise, wear face masks properly and maintain social distance,” Mnangagwa said further.
This comes as Zimbabwe is in the middle of a second wave coronavirus drumfire, which has seen the disease killing more than 800 people since it first broke out in the country last year.
Most worryingly, the deadlier latest onslaught of the pandemic has killed more people since the turn of the New Year than it did in the whole of last year.
On Wednesday, Moyo became the third minister to die from the raging pandemic, following the recent death of Gwaradzimba and last year’s passing on of the former Lands and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri.
The 61-year-old former army general became an instant celebrity when he announced live on State television the stunning November 2017 military coup which led to the ouster from power of the late former president Robert Mugabe.
He was also the husband of the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.
Moyo’s death came as authorities are battling to contain spiralling cases of Covid-19 in the country, which have triggered calls for the government to expedite processes to bring in much-needed vaccines.
On Wednesday, another 54 people succumbed to the deadly virus — 24 hours after it had killed 52 others, and a further 60 citizens the previous day, amid a worrying trend where the deaths are continuing in the double figures range.
Amid the runaway cases of coronavirus, the government has — with immediate effect — cut the number of its employees who will be manning its offices during the lockdown.
“From tomorrow (yesterday) 21 January 2021 to 3 February 2021, all ministries, govt departments and agencies (except for @MoHCCZim) will be operating with only 10% of staff.
“Those who can work from home will be doing that. This is likely to affect the service the public receives,” the government announced on social media.
All this comes as health experts have urged authorities to expedite their plans to procure much-needed vaccines.
Yesterday, the government said it was closer to completing its plans that would see the importation of the much-needed vaccines.
“A lot of public interest around the subject of a vaccination programme for Zimbabwe has been expressed.
“We are pleased to advise the nation that a draft vaccination framework programme has been developed. Once the modalities are in place, it will be shared with the nation,” Acting Information minister Jenfan Muswere said.
On Tuesday, medical experts told the Daily News that it was now critical that the authorities fast-tracked their plans to bring vaccines into the country.
Bulawayo-based medical expert, Solwayo Ngwenya, said the ever-rising deaths could be a harbinger of “far worse things to come” — unless the country acquired vaccines quickly and citizens also changed their behaviour towards the killer virus.
“According to my own projections, I foresee many deaths based on the behaviour and the attitude of our people.
“The way they mix and do clandestine activities, their attitude towards the wearing of masks, and their general attitude towards this virus has been very poor indeed.
“Vaccines should be made available as soon as possible … The problem, however, is that a vaccine is not a panacea to all the current problems … it’s not going to stop infections.
“We have to drastically change our behaviour. We still need to make lockdowns more effective,” Ngwenya told the Daily News.
“The vaccine is just going to make your immune system fight the virus. The virus will still get to you even if you are vaccinated … it is only going to reduce our chances of having severe diseases, deaths.
“Unless we have a strict lockdown, I’m afraid that the infections and deaths are going to keep going. At the moment really, the lockdown is the best answer to curbing this spread — because we don’t have vaccines yet.
“So, we have to separate the people. It’s the basic epistemological move. The government and even citizens have no choice on the issue of lockdown.
“So, and whether people like it or not, we are likely to have an extended lockdown which should, however, be stricter than what is currently prevailing,” Ngwenya further told the Daily News.
The rising Covid-19 deaths come as the country is under a stiffened lockdown which authorities had hoped would help curb the spread of the disease in the country.
The re-imposed curfew means that people are prohibited from being out and about between 6pm and 6am, except for those providing essential services.
In addition, the operations of all businesses — except those providing essential services — were also once again suspended for 30 days, as authorities battled to curb the spread of the lethal disease.