BY KENNETH MATIMAIRE
ZANU PF has been accused of fuelling public indiscipline on Covid-19 control after senior party officials repeatedly violated regulations by convening large gatherings which are now being identified as potential virus super spreaders.
This comes at a time when Covid-19 confirmed cases and deaths are spiking over the past month as the country grapples to contain a deadly third wave.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s situational report indicate that a total of 10 903 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 193 deaths have been recorded during the entire month of June.
Opposition party, Zimbabwe First said Zanu PF’s indiscipline is one of the catalysts behind the surge in Covid-19 cases.
“It is true that Zimbabwe Covid-19 numbers are rising but lack of transparency is the source of the people’s anger against the government. The distrust is exacerbated by the government’s own actions disregarding the same restrictive measures they put in place,” ZimFirst president Maxwell Shumba said.
His remarks came at a time when the ruling party has been conducting rallies, football tournaments, public campaigns and gatherings in contravention of government imposed Covid-19 safety guidelines.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa presided over Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS) pass-out parade at Ntabazinduna Training Depot just after Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga had banned all public gatherings with the exception of funerals.
Mnangagwa went on for a photoshoot with the junior prison officers without wearing a mask or social distancing in a further violation of the strict Covid-19 protocols implemented by his government.
In December last year Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa hosted her 60th birthday party highly attended by government and party officials, who openly disregarded government coronavirus regulations.
No government officials have been punished at a time ordinary citizens have been arrested and fined for breaching Covid-19 safety protocols such as failure to wear masks and/or breaching curfews.
MDC-Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere condemned the failure by Zanu PF to respect the Covid-19 protocols, laws and restrictions.
“We’ve seen Zanu PF officials carry out super-spreader rallies and meetings in flagrant breach of the law. What is very problematic about these meetings is that they don’t respect Covid-19 protocols. There is no social distancing; people don’t wear masks, there is no facility for people to wash hands with soap and there are no sanitisers. This is placing large communities at risk,” she said.
Mahere lamented that law enforcement agents were complicit in breaching Covid-19 protocols by the ruling party as they have failed to make any arrests.
“However, even more concerning in these violations is the failure by the police to act. They clearly have demonstrated and respected these Zanu PF rallies and meetings where they are captured. We have seen an unfortunate selective application of the law, whether the offenders place these communities at risk, they are never brought to book. So what that suggests to us is that Covid-19 restrictions are being weaponised to stifle freedom,” Mahere said as she called for an immediate end to the unjust application of the law.
MDC-Alliance national deputy chairperson Job Sikhala recently vented his anger on microblogging social media platform Twitter over the weaponisation of Covid-19.
“The Emmerson Mnangagwa regime has found a new weapon against the people of Zimbabwe and the MDC-Alliance. That weapon is called Covid-19. His regime pronounces lockdowns while his party do (sic) as they wish,” posted Sikhala recently.
This came after the ruling party conducted a highly attended football tournament in Chirumanzu and a rally in Chivi last week.
The United States earlier this year issued a statement that Covid-19 regulations were being applied selectively against the opposition.
“We also note the government’s selective enforcement of Covid-19 regulations to indefinitely postpone by-elections and prohibit MDC-Alliance gatherings, while permitting internal elections and gatherings for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) party and its allies to go forward,” reads a statement issued in March.
A thesis by Scientific Research Publishing titled, The Weaponisation of the Coronavirus Crisis in Zimbabwe: Legal and Extra-Legal Instruments, also raises similar concerns.
MDC-T president Douglas Mwonzora appealed to the government to depoliticise the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mwonzora urged adherence to safety guidelines by all including those in positions of authority.
“Covid-19 is real and we are on record urging all to act responsibly. This includes those in authority and not those from the opposition and ruling party.
“Lives are at stake and everyone must comply with the safety guidelines. If public gatherings are banned, they must be banned for all. Covid-19 restrictive measures must be completely depoliticised,” Mwonzora said.