- A few days after Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo died of covid-19 complications, Transport Minister Joel Matiza died also from from the viral disease on Friday night (22.01).
- By mid-January, Manicaland's Minister for Provincial Affairs, Ellen Gwaradzimba, had already succumbed to the consequences of a coronavirus infection.
- Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri's death was reported in July.
In Zimbabwe, the Covid-19 pandemic is leaving its trail in the ranks of the Government. Pandemic also affects the country’s health system, on the verge of collapse and tainted by reports of corruption. Within a few months, the Government of Zimbabwe lost several ministers, killed due to infection with coronavirus.
A few days after Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo died of covid-19 complications, Transport Minister Joel Matiza died also from from the viral disease on Friday night (22.01).
By mid-January, Manicaland’s Minister for Provincial Affairs, Ellen Gwaradzimba, had already succumbed to the consequences of a coronavirus infection. Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri’s death was reported in July.
According to unconfirmed sources in the local media, several other cabinet members are battling with the disease in a private hospital.
“We are in a dark cloud that we have to clear very soon,” said Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro, who raised the prospect of tightening the curfew imposed in the country in early January.
According to measures taken by the Government of Zimbabwe, citizens are not allowed to leave their homes between 6 pm and 6 am (local time). A maximum of 30 people are allowed in meetings. Restaurants, bars and gyms were forced to close. However, according to the deputy minister of health, not everyone is respecting the restrictions.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, almost 1,000 deaths have been officially registered in the country due to infection by the coronavirus. With an estimated population of 16 million, this number is comparatively low.
However, Covid-19 is putting the country’s already precarious health system in serious trouble.
Many complain on social media that the government refuses to provide hospital staff with protective clothing and a salary increase, given the rising prices.
In the summer, many doctors, nurses and nursing assistants had already gone on strike.
However, alleged bribes in the country’s highest circles add to the pandemic problem.
In June, investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono discovered an alleged corruption network in the purchase of protective equipment, in which members of the government are also believed to be involved.
Chin’ono has since been arrested several times and spent several weeks in prison. Political leadership under President Emmerson Mnangagwa is taking increasingly repressive action against critics.
In mid-August, the Catholic Episcopal Conference in Zimbabwe criticized the Government for considering many critics as enemies.
“Fear runs down the spine of many of our people today. The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented,” the bishops said in the strongly-worded letter to the Zimbabwean Government.
“Is this the Zimbabwe we want? To have a different opinion does not mean to be an enemy.”
However, in a quick response, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa hit back at the head of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, and termed the letter as an “evil message” meant to stoke a “Rwanda-type genocide”.
“His [Ndlovu’s] transgressions acquire a geopolitical dimension as the chief priest of the agenda of regime change that is the hallmark of the post-imperial major Western powers for the last two decades,” Mutsvangwa said in a statement.