COVID-19 is the war you are clearly losing

Moses Matenga

Dear Cde Acting President Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga,

I hope I find you well in these awful COVID-19 times.

It is my genuine hope that you and your family are keeping safe.

My heartfelt condolences on the passing on of some government officials and military personnel in the last week, some of them succumbing to the coronavirus.

That at least should be a wakeup call that the COVID-19 pandemic is real and it’s killing, but obviously not the time for your ministers to stoke diplomatic tensions by blaming China for the coronavirus.

Your Excellency, I note that you are acting in the stead of your boss, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose silence in the midst of the devastating second wave of COVID-19 has been deafening.

We have seen bits of him, sometimes doing something unrelated to what is afflicting the country now, COVID-19.

Yesterday, he was pictured signing and autographing copies of the Presidential Edition of The African Fact Book which will be despatched to Africa’s 54 heads of State.

I have no idea how that fact book is too important, way too important for his attention than the pandemic that has hit the country hard, claiming the lives of his own ministers and aides.

Your Excellency, there is no point, however, for me to continue highlighting where I feel he has erred or has been found wanting in these trying times in a letter addressed to you as the Acting President.

What makes it key to address this letter to you is that you are also the Health minister and the happenings of today fits well into your portfolio.

You declared a full lockdown early this year to curb the spread of COVID-19 and halfway down the line, it is important to take stock.

Indications are that on average two people are dying every hour in the country due to the deadly virus and the figures cannot be ignored.

It would have been prudent on your part to monitor what you started instead of announcing and hiding.

This tempts us to believe the words of the opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa who said your announcement was an indication of “panic without planning” on your part as government.

Your Excellency, had you taken time to drive around suburbs, where the virus is hitting harder, you would have noticed that your announcement on January 2, 2021, only banned people from entering the central business districts and nothing else.

People behave as if it’s business as usual in the suburbs particularly high-density areas like Mbare, Glen View, Budiriro, Dzivarasekwa where they spent time milling around without the least observation of COVID-19 regulations, testing or et cetera.

They are just God’s people who have a government not ready to face this devouring monster.

These people are faced with tough decisions but either way death being the endgame.

Most of them are in the informal sector and if they continue to stay at home, they will die of hunger and if they are allowed to get back onto the streets, COVID-19 will strike them hard.

If you allow me to be blunt, Your Excellency, Acting President, Health minister Sir, your statement last week that COVID-19 is under control in Zimbabwe is just far from reality.

Nothing is under control and if you ask the Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana, at least he has been open about it, nothing is under control.

You have not sorted the issues of shortages of ventilator beds, the improvement in testing, provision of necessities for examination classes and invigilators among other things.

Acting President, I am tempted to place the blame for the soaring figures of infected people and fatalities squarely on your lap as acting leader of the government.

The presidium has not shown forthright leadership in this pandemic and your ministers have also been reckless and are failing to lead by example — partying without observing social distance or wearing face masks.

Your Excellency, you are number two in the government and Zanu PF matrix and that makes you the favourite at some point to take over as leader and this COVID-19 pandemic has been an opportune time for you to show that you can provide leadership.

I do not want to fall in the same trap as your rivals and judge you on your performance in this pandemic but I would rather only say that you are yet to come to the party.

Acting President, for a Vice-President and Health minister, you have been too quiet and as the (retired) military commander that you are, you should know that you have to lead from the front.
So far you are not.
This is clearly a war you are losing, Mr Acting President.
Thank you.

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