BY MOSES MATENGA/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THOUSANDS of Zanu PF supporters yesterday thronged the National Heroes Acre in Harare to witness the burial of national hero and Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo in defiance of COVID-19 protocols.
This happened despite warnings by local health experts that a fourth wave of the respiratory virus could hit the country during the December festive season due to complacency and failure to observe World Health Organisation-stipulated safety protocols.
Moyo succumbed to cancer at the Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo last week. He was 76.
The Zanu PF spokesperson was buried at the national shrine with thousands of Zanu PF supporters in attendance. The mourners were not observing social distancing, while several of them were improperly wearing their masks.
Only the party leadership in the front seats were socially distanced and had their face masks on.
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike said it was unfortunate that political parties were continuing to disregard the COVID-19 guidelines and protocols at a time when a fourth wave of the pandemic is looming.
Mnangagwa has been addressing rallies across the country amid fears that they could be super spreaders of COVID-19.
His MDC Alliance counterpart Nelson Chamisa has also been on a whirlwind tour of rural areas where he is meeting party supporters.
“It is very unfortunate that the leaderships of political parties are disregarding the COVID-19 level two lockdown measures by addressing public gatherings exceeding the requisite numbers allowed by the government, thus putting their members and followers at risk of COVID-19 infection,” Rusike said.
“These leaders should lead by example in observing WHO recommended guidelines and government protocols on COVID-19, given that some countries in Europe are currently battling an increase in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalisation and deaths. Zimbabwe risks being overwhelmed by the fourth wave of COVID-19 during this festive season if we continue with the current levels of complacency and disregarding the physical distancing measures,” he said.
Rusike said there was need for political party leaders to be on the forefront in encouraging their members to get vaccinated against the virus.
“Instead, we expect to see the leadership of political parties being at the forefront encouraging their members to get vaccinated so that the country can reach the required 60% herd immunity after vaccinating at least 10 million of the population.”
While there are concerns of complacency, the COVID-19 chief co-ordinator in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Agnes Mahomva said as government, they were trying to implement COVID-19 regulations.
“During the large gatherings, we encourage everyone to social distance and observe COVID-19 regulations,” she said, insisting that they were working with law enforcement agents to ensure adherence.
At Moyo’s burial, Zanu PF supporters failed to produce the required COVID-19 certificates.
In his address, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country should be on high alert of more infections ahead of the festive season.
“As we approach the festive season, I call upon you, fellow countrymen and women to continue complying with the WHO public health protocols, guidelines and procedures for containing the COVID-19 pandemic. We must never let our guard down,” he said, urging those yet to be vaccinated to do so.
In his eulogy, Mnangagwa described Moyo as a diplomat par excellence and a patriot who served with distinction in all assignments that he was given.
“A cadre always available for deployment no matter the task or duty, the late Cde SK Moyo was instrumental in demystifying the false and negative narratives by detractors, against our great motherland, Zimbabwe.”
“He was patient and kind, he did not envy or boast, he was not proud and did not dishonour others, neither was he self-seeking, he was not easily angered. Those who had the privilege to know Cde SK Moyo will attest to the fact that he did not delight in evil but rejoiced in the truth. He always hoped and always persevered. In his honour, let us as a nation, across all provinces, rise beyond misplaced perceptions,” Mnangagwa said.