Muchinguri torches storm over virus
DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri torched a storm at the weekend after she described the coronavirus pandemic as a punishment for western countries for imposing sanctions against members of the ruling Zanu PF party over human rights abuses.
This comes as coronavirus, which first broke out in China, Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend, has claimed over
5 000 lives, with Europe and America recording the highest number of infections and deaths outside China.
Speaking at a rally in Chinhoyi on Saturday, Muchinguri-Kashiri said the deadly disease was God’s retribution against Western countries for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“Coronavirus is like sanctions on countries that have imposed sanctions on us. God has punished them. They are now stuck in their homes. Their economies are now screaming, like ours is screaming because of them. (United States President Donald) Trump must know that he is not God.
“They are suffocating us, where do they want us to go? It is now your turn to be suffocated by the coronavirus so that you also understand how painful it feels,” she said.
The United States and the European Union first imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe during the despotic rule of the late former president Robert Mugabe, following massive human rights abuses that occurred during the land reform programme.
The measures targeted high-ranking officials and government institutions, including travel bans on Mugabe and his inner circle.
The United States has since added minister of State Security Owen Ncube and former Presidential Guard boss Anslem Sanyatwe to the sanctions list for their alleged role in the killings of civilians by the security sector in 2018 and 2019.
Muchinguri’s sentiments immediately triggered a storm, with analysts indicating that her comments were misplaced given the number of people affected by the pandemic.
Lawyer and former advisor to the late MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa, said Muchinguri’s comments were not only shocking, but were insensitive.
“My first reaction to Oppah Muchinguri’s primitive, parochial and callous view that coronavirus is God’s way of punishing the West was shock.
“But I recalled she belongs to a party whose leaders believed a con artist who claimed she had powers to produce diesel from rocks.
“How can Zimbabwe be ready for this pandemic when its leaders believe coronavirus is divine punishment upon the West? Everywhere else in the world, including neighbours, governments are taking measures.
“It started in China, but Zanu PF’s chairperson thinks it’s a Western disease,” Magaisa said.
“The country gets most of its aid in the fight against the Aids pandemic from taxpayers in countries that Muchinguri is callously mocking. But this is the calibre of people in charge of Zimbabwe. I cannot fathom how #enablers believe in and back this primitive lot.
“How does she face her Chinese counterparts, where the pandemic began when she makes such insulting and insensitive statements? If we get affected as most countries are we will need a lot of help. But she is busy mocking those very countries that are battling the pandemic.”
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti told the Daily News that Muchinguri-Kashiri’s sentiments reflect the true nature of Zanu PF.
“Here we have a senior Zanu PF official making insensitive comments in public about the coronavirus. It just shows the kind of leaders we have who do not care for others, but seek to score personal goals.
“That is why corruption and looting of state resources for personal gain is rampant in Zimbabwe. It’s due to the fact that we are being led by not only clueless, but insensitive people who are driven by one agenda, to enrich themselves at the expense of others,” Biti said.
Although no case of the deadly virus has been confirmed in Zimbabwe, health experts have warned that if the virus spreads into the country, it could have devastating effects due to the poor state of the nation’s health delivery system.
Muchinguri torches storm over virus