By NQOBANI NDLOVU
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday appealed for divine intervention to protect the country against a new COVID-19 strain that has been confirmed in some countries, including neighbouring South Africa.
Mnangagwa said this in his address during the annual December Thanksgiving and Dedication Service, now in its fourth edition, which was held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo.
South Africa recently recorded a new COVID-19 variant, known as 501.V2, which is blamed for a resurgence in infections, hospitalisations and deaths. Another COVID-19 strain, known as P681H was reported in Nigeria last week.
Countries such as Germany, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia have since suspended flights from South Africa, which is the hardest hit nation on the African continent with nearly one million infections to prevent new infections in their countries.
“We must equally redouble our prayers as this pandemic is on the resurgence, and we must seek God’s protection as a nation,” Mnangagwa said.
“While the rest of the region, the continent and the world suffered heavily, I believe that our God whom we praise as a nation protected us to date,” he added as he quoted Psalms, 124, verses 1-4 to buttress his point.
The thanksgiving event, which was organised by the Faith for the Nation Campaign, a grouping of various church denominations founded in 2000, was held under the theme “Celebrating the Nation’s Progress towards Vision 2030”.
The inaugural 2017 edition was marred by mini anti-Mnangagwa protests organised by the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) over his role in the Gukurahundi massacres but they were in no-show this time.
“While we continue to fast and pray for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic as it requires a spiritual and humble petition for God’s protection, I urge us all to comply with guidelines by my government guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Mnangagwa said.
As at Friday last week, Zimbabwe had recorded 12 963 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 519 recoveries and 341 deaths. Health experts have called on authorities to close the borders to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 variant citing the country’s teetering health delivery sector where basic drugs and medicines are in short supply.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa also seemed to suggest the need for urgency by the Southern African and Development Community (Sadc) leaders and the African Union to fight the insurgency in neighbouring Mozambique.
Recently, Mnangagwa posted a tweet saying Zimbabwe was ready to help Mozambique battle the Islamist militants. Over 2000 people have been killed in that country, and nearly 450 000 others were forced to flee their homes owing to the insurgency that was first reported in October 2017.
“Our progress as a nation also depends on peace in our nation, and in the countries surrounding us. There is no country that will develop in environments of violence, but countries develop in environments of peace, tranquillity, love and unity,” Mnangagwa said.
“We thank God for the peace that continues to prevail in our motherland Zimbabwe. Let us pray that God will give us wisdom as leaders of Southern Africa, Sadc and Africa Union, and the African continent to seek lasting solutions to address unconstitutional insurgencies both internally and externally driven.”
In November, Sadc leaders revealed that they were in the process of putting together a reaction force to deal with the Mozambique crisis following an extraordinary organ Troika Summit held in Botswana.
Reverend Andrew Wutaunashe, the event’s co-ordinator was among some of the speakers at the thanksgiving ceremony. He claimed that Mnangagwa’s participation in the liberation war was a calling from God.
“I think we should clap our hands to the Lord for empowering us to have a free nation, and dignity to worship him as free men and women and the sacrifices of men like Mnangagwa who sacrificed so that we have freedom. Maybe that was a calling from God…,” Wutaunashe said.
Matabeleland North and South chiefs led by the Zimbabwe Chiefs Council (ZCC) president Fortune Charumbira attended the event.
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