Emmerson Mnangagwa urged to cut holiday as Covid-19 spirals in Zimbabwe

07 January 2021 - 06:00 By Lenin Ndebele
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is due back from his annual holiday only at the end of February. File photo.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is due back from his annual holiday only at the end of February. File photo.
Image: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

There are growing calls for Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to cut short his annual holiday because the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has “run over” his government.

One of his deputies, Constantino Chiwenga, effectively put the country on a 30-day lockdown that started on Tuesday. His other deputy, Kembo Mohadi, announced that this time around, individual effort was key in fighting the virus.

“We are our own saviours and it is our behavioural change that will take us out of danger. There must be a major paradigm shift on behaviour. Let those that are infected now be the last as we all together strive that no-one else shall be infected,” Mohadi told journalists.

Some reports in the local media claim that some cabinet ministers are battling Covid-19 infections.

Through his official Twitter account, Mnangagwa said the current lockdown was the “final push”. But some, notably Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, an EFF MP in SA, criticised Mnangagwa’s absence from the front line.

Responding on Twitter, Ndlozi said: “Chief, can you stop grandstanding on Twitter. Take mobile test stations to your borders with SA. This is the most urgent problem NOW. The border is presenting a big super-spreader event. Oh, and are you actually tweeting from a holiday or from work?”

Mnangagwa is expected back at work only at the end of February. His predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe, also took leave around the same time.

Other ministers are also on leave, including minister of information Monica Mutsvangwa.

This is what is known about the Covid-19 situation in Zimbabwe so far:

  • On Tuesday there were a record 34 deaths in 24 hours. There were 165 cases recorded in one day, the highest since the virus outbreak in March last year. This brings the recorded Covid-19 cases to 17,194 — with 418 deaths. Recoveries now stand at 11,813, with a national recovery rate of 69%.
  • 56% of the new Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe are from the capital city, Harare. Of the new deaths, 10 are from Harare, eight from Manicaland, seven from Bulawayo, three from Mashonaland West, two each from Mashonaland Central and Masvingo, and one each from Mashonaland East and Midlands. Of these, 25 deaths occurred in hospitals and nine at home. The government said its health system is overwhelmed.
  • The logjam at the Beitbridge border into SA from Zimbabwe is blamed for being a potential “super-spreader” of the virus.
  • Some well-to-do Zimbabweans are offering money to get access to a bed and a ventilator. Some have even procured ventilators for home-based care.
  • A music promoter and a DJ have each been jailed for an effective six months for staging a New Year’s Eve gig in Mbare township in Harare attended by 2,000 people breaking lockdown regulations.
  • Only 30% of government workers are reporting for duty as part of Covid-19 regulation measures.
  • Filing of new cases, processing of documents and pleadings in court have been suspended until February 3, when the lockdown ends.

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