BY MOSES MATENGA
ANALYSTS yesterday accused the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration of misplaced priorities and dismally failing to prepare the country for the second wave of COVID-19 which has claimed 483 lives to date amid fears the disease could spiral out of control.
Mnangagwa is on his annual leave and is expected back in office early February, with Vice-President Kembo Mohadi acting in his stead. His decision to go on leave during a global crisis has also angered his critics.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said: “We have come to a conclusion that the government of Zimbabwe should be held responsible for the recent wave of COVID-19. The government failed to prepare well enough for an eventuality in terms of this pandemic.
“When other countries were busy preparing for a new wave, the government of the country was busy erecting a statue for Mbuya Nehanda and doing other things not related to the COVID-19 fight.”
Analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the government lost an opportunity to properly prepare for the new wave of COVID-19 by concentrating on minor issues.
“This was bound to happen in Zimbabwe as the government is seeing COVID-19 more as a security than a health matter,” he said.
“Deploying the military and police with AK-47s and baton sticks and setting roadblocks does not stop COVID-19 but rather, more support to health infrastructure, PPE [personal protective equipment] to frontline workers and civic awareness.
“The government had all the time to prepare in 2020 but this was lost.”
Another analyst Alexander Rusero said government had no clear strategy to combat the spread of the pandemic compared to neighbouring South Africa.
“However, comparing to clear-cut policy laid out in South Africa on how the government there is dealing with the vaccine and what she (head of COVID-19 taskforce Agnes Mahomva) is saying on behalf of government, it is very evident for all to see that the government is as clueless as all of us are in terms of rescuing Zimbabwe out of this mess,” Rusero said.
Professor of world politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan, was quoted by international media saying: “The (Zanu PF) government needs to reassure the citizens it has a COVID-19 plan beyond lockdown. It needs to say it has a vaccination policy and plan.”
He said Zimbabweans should ask tough questions regarding the availability of a vaccine and hold the government to account on its plan going forward.
However, Zanu PF reacted angrily to the criticism, with acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa saying Mnangagwa had done his best compared to his peers in the Sadc region.
“No sane person can genuinely question why he (President Mnangagwa) should take his mandatory annual rest. Ironically, those attacking him baselessly are clueless,” Chinamasa said.