BY MOSES MATENGA
SEVERAL government and Zanu PF bigwigs have retreated to their farms and villages as the Covid-19 pandemic bares its teeth with four Cabinet ministers having died so far and President Emmerson Mnangagwa warning the situation could get worse.
Fear has gripped government corridors and party structures after several bigwigs succumbed to the vicious killer disease, while many others have reportedly tested positive to virus.
A number of ministers and party bigwigs were caught offside during the festive season, hosting and attending wild parties and proudly posting on social media pictorial and video evidence of their wayward behaviour in violation of set World Health Organisation Covid-19 regulations.
Four ministers — Perrance Shiri, Sibusiso Moyo, Ellen Gwaradzimba and Joel Biggie Matiza — have succumbed to Covid-19, three of them in the past two weeks, while some top government and party officials are reportedly in hospital battling the killer virus.
Government has remained tight-lipped on the number of ministers and other officials who are currently down with Covid-19.
A senior Zanu PF official yesterday said many officials were panicking and were now isolating after being in contact with the deceased ministers and other party officials. A good number had retreated to their rural homes or farms, he said.
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi is on annual leave and reportedly spending time at his farm in Beitbridge.
There were reports last week that Mohadi was also down with Covid-19 together with his colleague and acting President Constantino Chiwenga.
The reports were, however, dispelled by presidential spokesperson George Charamba.
“Vice-President Kembo Mohadi took his annual leave soon after his term as acting president ended. He is very much around and well enough to sit musingly watching his lovely herd,” Charamba said on Friday.
Zanu PF national political commissar Victor Matemadanda said he was spending time at his farm.
Matemadanda, who was wearing two face masks for “maximum protection”, denied as untrue claims that he had been rushed to hospital after suffering Covid-19-related complications.
“Claims that I was rushed to hospital after contracting Covid-19 are false. I do not have Covid-19 and as you can see, I am in the field and I was tested yesterday (Friday). The results came out negative although I have been at risk,” he said.
Zanu PF secretary for finance Patrick Chinamasa, who is also reportedly at his farm, said he was recovering well from Covid-19 and was out of danger.
“I am so tired of being killed. Otherwise, I am making very good progress,” Chinamasa told The Standard yesterday.
Several ministers have not been seen in public lately, including Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, whose birthday party was widely condemned after officials and ministers posted pictures of themselves at the party where they danced and wined without adhering to Covid-19 regulations.
One of the ministers who were present at the party was Joel Biggie Matiza, who has since died from Covid-19. Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was also there and is reportedly unwell.
In his address to the nation yesterday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa warned that the situation was pointing to more infections and had become worrisome.
“For our nation, the numbers of our infections have gone past 30 000 with indications pointing to more infections in the coming hours, days, weeks or even months,” Mnangagwa said.
“To date, we have lost over 962 of our beloved ones and soon we will reach and even pass the grim mark of a thousand. The situation is very worrisome and threatens to become dire.”
Zanu PF’s United Kingdom district chairman Masimba Tawengwa also died recently due to Covid-19-related complications in England while newly-elected Zanu PF Mwenezi district coordinating committee vice-chairperson Luckson Chikomo also died on Friday alongside former Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere and former Chitungwiza MP Christopher Chigumba.
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial secretary for information and publicity Ronald Ndava also succumbed to Covid-19 and so did Mashonaland Central provincial youth league secretary Lens Fernando Ruwizhu.
The party’s secretary for health David Parirenyatwa said the party was always on high alert to curb the spread of Covid-19, but events of the last few days should prompt the government to act.
“What we do in the party is we test everybody like what we did last time and those who test positive we isolate and they come back after sometime. In terms of contact, we also follow that up,” he said.
“On the recent developments as you can see, most of it is up to the government to follow that up. It is not really about the party now. Covid-19, as you know, it’s non-partisan, so it is up to the government to then follow up to keep people alert.”