BY BLESSED MHLANGA/HARRIET CHIKANDWA
A HEALTHY-LOOKING Acting President Constantino Chiwenga resurfaced in public to bury three heroes at the national shrine, following a week of speculation about his health and whereabouts.
Reports suggested that Chiwenga, who is also Health minister, had fallen ill while the government said President Emmerson Mnangagwa had ordered him to take some rest, two days after taking over as Acting President because he was looking worse for wear.
In his remarks while burying Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza and former Prisons and Corrections Services Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi — all victims of COVID-19 — Chiwenga addressed the damage the pandemic was wreaking on Zimbabwe.
“COVID-19 has taught us an important lesson that we are all mortals,” Chiwenga said.
“The fight against the pandemic does not allow us to choose who to walk with, work with or run with. It does not discriminate between the powerful and the weak, the privileged and the deprived the haves and the haves
Top government officials, ruling Zanu PF leaders and business persons have succumbed to COVID-19 as the death toll rolled past the 1 000 mark, while positive cases have gone past 32 000, and Chiwenga called the virus “ruthless”.
“It is a ruthless juggernaut that leaves a trail of despair and desperation but we eventually we will conquer it and prevail as a people,” he said.
“One expects that when tragedy strikes, it would gradually abet but this is not the case, it is only God who knows when it will end. Today marks a tragic day for our country Zimbabwe. I want to express my pain over COVID-19.”
While other countries, including South Africa are already rolling out vaccinations for their people, Zimbabwe’s plan is still opaque, although reports suggest the government is still sourcing money to pay for the doses.
“Government is already in the process of acquiring the necessary vaccines for this pandemic. Let us continue to observe laid down protocols as stipulated by the World Health Organisation and our national laws,” Chiwenga said.
Since the virus hit Zimbabwe, four ministers lost their lives to COVID-19, and in a space of a week, five national heroes were buried at the national shrine.
Speaking on Moyo, Chiwenga said he was a decorated soldier, who should be remembered for playing a leading role in operation restore legacy – the military coup which brought President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power.
“If the name SB Moyo is not recorded prominently in the bringing in of the new dispensation, most of us remember him as the mouthpiece of Operation Restore Legacy,” Chiwenga said.
Vice-President, Kembo Mohadi, who is also rumoured sick, did not attend the burials.
Chiwenga pleaded for unity in the country’s fight against COVID-19.
“The time is up for that unity of diversity to be viewed as strength and not as a weakness,” said Chiwenga.
Divisions have widened among Zimbabweans as the effects of the virus take toll on the political leadership, killing more than 10 government and Zanu PF top officials within two weeks. Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana early this week accused doctors of being “medical assassins. He later apologised.