Corona runs riot as people perish …Shiri dies in his car while trying to get help      

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Blessings Mashaya
and Sindiso Mhlope
SENIOR STAFF WRITERS



LANDS, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement minister Perrance Shiri, pictured, died in the wee hours of yesterday, days after his driver succumbed to the lethal coronavirus that is fast getting out of control in the country.
The Daily News understands that the stricken war veteran and former military commander — born Bigboy Samson Chikerema before he joined the liberation war in the 1970s — endured a difficult and lonely death in his car, as he tried in vain to drive himself to a hospital for treatment.
Shiri’s death also came as information filtered through that a number of senior government and Zanu PF officials have contracted the deadly disease, having come into contact with infected people in recent days.
As a measure of how much a problem Covid-19 has become in the country, President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed yesterday that two former Cabinet ministers — Obert Mpofu and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi — were in self-quarantine.
This came as it also emerged that the daughter of Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Tanya Rushesha, had been battling the novel coronavirus.
However, Rushesha later posted on social media yesterday that she had since fully recovered from the killer virus.
Mnangagwa led the chorus of tributes to 65-year-old Shiri yesterday — who had exchanged his military fatigues for the position of Agriculture minister when the late former president Robert Mugabe was ousted from power in November 2017 via a popular coup.
“It is with sadness that I announce the passing on of our minister of Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Air Chief Marshall (Rtd), Perence Shiri.
“His death came as a great shock to all of us. Cde Shiri was a true patriot who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa said, without disclosing the retired general’s cause of death.
Shiri was commander of the Airforce of Zimbabwe for 25 years before he was appointed to Cabinet in 2017, following Mugabe’s stunning ouster.
Before that he had also led the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade, which was later accused of killing thousands of innocent civilians in the early 1980s during the Gukurahundi disturbances mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands.
Shiri and his driver, also a former soldier, were both said to have been ill after attending one of the late minister’s many field tours.
The driver later developed coronavirus symptoms, before succumbing to the illness at the weekend.
Following his driver’s death, Shiri was said to have gone into self-quarantine before visiting a private hospital twice earlier this week.
The unmarried former air marshal was said to have suffered serious complications in the early hours of Wednesday morning — resulting in him dying while trying to drive himself to hospital.
Shiri did not attend Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, while his ministry’s offices were temporarily closed on the same day for fumigation and disinfection, following the death of his driver.
The week before, the late minister had carried out his official duties as usual, including attending Cabinet and Parliament — where he interacted with several senators from both Zanu PF and the opposition.
His death came as Zimbabwe is struggling to contain the rapid spread of coronavirus in the country, which has now seen authorities imposing a dusk-to-dawn curfew — amid rapidly rising deaths and infections.
Mnangagwa yesterday revealed that Mpofu and Mumbengegwi had gone into self-quarantine in the aftermath of their recent travels.
Officially opening an extra-ordinary session of Zanu PF’s politburo, Mnangagwa bemoaned the spike in coronavirus cases and deaths in the country.
“We have received apologies from Obert Mpofu (Zanu PF’s secretary for administration) and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (secretary for foreign affairs) who are of course in self-quarantine.
“We have met to discuss urgent issues which include Covid-19 which has suddenly spiked and continues to do so as the surge in both infections — the most worrying being domestic infections — and the spike in deaths shows.
“The indication is that the number will continue to grow despite the measures we put in place to combat it. So, we meet to discuss whether the measures are adequate,” Mnangagwa said.
To underline the panic and fear that has come with the killer virus, Zanu PF tested all politburo members and journalists before the start of yesterday’s meeting.
Meanwhile, Muchinguri-Kashiri’s daughter has revealed that she had contracted coronavirus, but had now fully recovered after being cleared by doctors.
“For you to be reading this you are either a friend or family member … I had Corona. I’m proud to say I have been cleared,” Rushesha said in a Facebook post.
Her mother caused a major stir earlier this year, before Zimbabwe had recorded its first case of coronavirus, when she told a Zanu PF meeting in Chinhoyi that the lethal virus was punishment to European countries and US President Donald Trump for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
All this comes as coronavirus is getting out of hand in the country, with Parliament being among the latest institutions to feel the sting of the disease this week.
The august House has announced that it is scaling back its normal business following the contraction of the virus by two legislators.
This came after several companies had also been hit by the virus, severely affecting their operations.
As a result, many companies have either temporarily stopped operations altogether, or been forced to reduce their work as a result of Covid-19.
Yesterday, the ZBC announced a temporary closure of most of its studios — after one of its employees contracted coronavirus.
The State broadcaster immediately ordered all its workers at Pockets Hill in Harare to go for mandatory testing.

 

This came as laboratories and some testing centres are being flooded by panicking ordinary people wanting to know their status.
This has seen hospitals such as St Anne’s in Harare being besieged by people requesting to be tested.
Private testing can cost as much as US$70 per person.
1 Comment
  1. mai tt mvere says

    Tineurombo chaizvo May God give him rest.

    He was one of my late husband’s first A-level maths student at Hartzell high school in Manicaland
    Known then as Job c a Shiri. He was among the very first 15 students from Hartzell who crossed into Mozambque.
    together with major general Nyambuya.

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