By Nevanji Madanhire
I VISITED Victoria Falls a few days ago. Besides the shock and awe that the falling water induces in me — and in anyone who visits — I looked out for one more thing: foreign tourists! It was encouraging that among the domestic visitors — me and an odd 30 others who had come from Harare — was a sprinkling of foreigners.
I saw a young couple from The Netherlands, a family from Chicago in the US, a young lady who donned a cap with the South African flag and a couple that spoke the Queen’s English.
A mixture of others from different parts of the world made up the tourist numbers that signalled the revival of international tourism after the devastation Covid-19 wrought upon this important sector of Zimbabwe’s economy.
All very heart-warming!
The Devil frothed, sending its primordial brute force down the cataract that bears its name, sending shivers down the spine of anyone who had forgotten his or her mortality. The Devil’s Cataract will always be such a spectacle as the white water roars down the gorge sweeping everything in its wake, but then like all the primitive anger of a bull, it quickly calms down and flows impotently down the gorge like it never really displayed its illusory hubris.
On the bus as we left behind the spectacle, reality dawned.
The news from around the world was disheartening. A fresh Covid-19 wave was sweeping across Europe, the worst hit being the UK, that country with which Zimbabwe is intractably tied to like a baby on its mother’s back, insultingly so, just as David Livingstone’s statue continues to insult our nationhood as it stands majestically on a plinth, as if superintending over the spirit of Mosi-oa-Tunya which he “discovered”.
On July 19 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson relaxed all Covid-19 restrictions urging the Brits “to begin to live with this virus”.
Bars, restaurants and cinemas quickly returned to full capacity. For that decision, infections have begun to surge.
Health secretary Sajid Javid warned the country could see 100 000 infections a day as winter intensifies and the festive season kicks in.
Already hospitals are getting overwhelmed with admissions in spite of the roaring success the country had registered rolling out its vaccination programme.
Meanwhile, a new Covid-19 variant has emerged in the UK.
It’s called AY.4.2 and is described as a subtype of Delta. Data shows it may be 10% more infectious than Delta.
The UK is home to nearly 50 000 Zimbabweans, a few hundred of whom will descend on the country in the next two months to run away from the biting winter and celebrate Christmas with their families.
That puts Zimbabwe into a situation: Does it accept AY.4.2 with open arms and trigger a fourth wave?
What mitigation measures has the country put in place to assuage the imminent new disaster?