HomeColumnistsCovid-19 pandemic now a national security threat

Covid-19 pandemic now a national security threat

When then former United States president Donald Trump tested positive for coronavirus and displayed mild symptoms, he was quickly whisked away to a military hospital and a few days later emerged healed. That was well before any cure for Covid-19 had been found. The vaccines everyone is talking about now came months later.

MUCKRAKER

Imagine what would have happened had Trump succumbed to the disease! It surely would have destabilised the country. There is a little lesson from that. When the US first knew there was a raging new virus, they thought first about state security. They thought about what would happen if the president died from the new disease. So they went straight into research and produced something that indeed saved their leader.

It didn’t, of course, save the 400 000 people who have died of Covid-19 in the US, but the lesson is salutary: state security first, the rest, as the Americans say, is collateral damage.

The death of cabinet ministers and high-ranking military personages recently has shown that indeed the Covid-19 pandemic should be approached from a state security point of view. The deaths, particularly that of Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso “SB” Moyo, must have drilled this point home unequivocally.

SB Moyo burst onto the political scene when he became the face of the coup that removed longtime president Robert Mugabe. That event itself brought people across the political divide together in a show of unity unprecedented in Zimbabwean history except perhaps the inaugural independence celebrations of 1980.

Now opinion is divided over the whole coup issue with some saying it was a good thing others saying it should never have happened. But be that as it may, SB Moyo became an important factor in the country’s history and the mark he has left is indelible.

His death showed that no one is safe from the disease including those in the high echelons of power and those in the security services, and that is the core of national security. The question now is what has the government done to ensure that there is a way of averting the security threat that comes with the pandemic?

And this is not a laughing matter. Zimbabwe is not politically stable and the divisions in the ruling Zanu PF bear testimony to this. The just-ended intra-party polls for choosing district and provincial leaders showed that the situation could get out of control any time.

Add to this a restive opposition which is working day and night to mobilise the people to rise and depose the government!

Vulnerable

hile we are at it, another question arises: Are our leaders living according to the WHO guidelines on preventing infection; simple instructions such as masking, social distancing, washing of hands and sanitisation? The answer is simply NO!

Everyday the country hears of extravagant birthday parties thrown at palatial homes by the political who-is-who where they mix and mingle without masks, let alone social distancing. These parties have become coronavirus super spreaders in spite of the government passing numerous rules ostensibly aimed at mitigating against the spread of the virus.

Ironically most senior government officials are in the most vulnerable bracket being 60 years old and above. Most of them are also known to have underlying conditions and comorbidities. Heaven knows senior government officials have become major conduits through which the virus is spread.

Each one of them owns a farm or two which they visit over the weekends. There they mingle with farm workers who have no personal protective equipment or if they do, which does not meet minimum standards and is also overused. It is common knowledge that the poor farm workers use the same masks over and over again and also that they cannot spend the whole working day with their noses covered. This makes them very vulnerable when the bosses interact with them after their super spreader liaisons.

The point is, our leaders must lead by example. The fact that deaths are rising among them has got a negative impact on the common people who will begin to think that if the disease kills the high and mighty how can it possibly spare the small man. This breeds not only alarm and despondency but also a sense of fatalism.

Beaten by a bat

The Zimbabwe national football team, generally referred to as the Warriors crashed out of the CHAN tournament without as much as a whimper all because of a dead bat they found at the centre of the playing field. One would have thought because of their name they would have stood the nation in good stead but, lo and behold, a dead bat was all it took to have them wet their pants.

Superstition has always been the curse of Zimbabwean sport. Driven by old wives’ tales, the superstitious beliefs defy all reason. Have our sports people ever asked themselves what kind of charms have propelled Portugal’s Ronaldo or the Argentine Messi to the pinnacle of the soccer world?

All those teams that have won the World Cup, how many bats have they killed and placed in the stadiums on which they have lifted the highest trophy in football?

One would have thought the foreign coach, what’s his name by the way, would have known better, he coming from a part of the world where science rather than superstition guides all thought processes. But no! It was he who made headlines around the world accusing the host Cameroon of using something called juju to win matches.

And, Cameroon knowing fully well just how much little boys like the Warriors from the continent fear magic, is probably capitalising on that now by throwing dead animals on the playing field before matches.

Poor Warriors, or as some call them now Worry-us, how much longer are you going to continue to humiliate the country by portraying us as a bunch of dunces who believe in spooks? Zimbabwe now boasts many soccer players plying their trade in some of the greatest leagues of the world. Why don’t our locally-based players ask them about the football medicine they use when they play for Lyon, for example, like man-of-the-moment Tino Kadewere does or Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba.

Man up guys and play football the way it should be played and if your coach and his technical team tell you that dead bats play football kick them in the bum.

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