Muchinguri killing the golden goose

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DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri’s unfortunate statements over the weekend that the coronavirus is punishment from God to America and her allies for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe were ill-timed politicking.

The remarks have gone viral as news outlets throughout the world picked the rather insensitive and embarrassing remarks and blew them up.

It is unfortunate that Muchinguri-Kashiri’s pronouncements are being viewed as government’s official position on coronavirus, especially as it came from its minister of Defence, who also happens to be a top Zanu PF official.

According to Johns Hopkins University, coronavirus has infected more than 182 000 people and killed over 7 000 worldwide, hence we can’t have a senior government official celebrating the pain of all these people. It is naïve and misplaced for Muchinguri-Kashiri to conclude that this virus is targeting those countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe because countries like China, Iran and South Korea, for example, have registered deaths although they are not part of the punitive measures against Harare.

China and Iran have in actual fact stood with Zimbabwe as they have over the years denounced sanctions on our country.  There are also several countries, including in Africa, that have been affected; nations that have stood with Zimbabwe as it fights the sanctions.

Muchinguri-Kashiri’s scientific thinking in all this is baffling; how can sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe for human rights abuses trigger such a deadly virus on innocent people? We have to remind the government that the United States and European countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe are actually our biggest donors when it comes to health issues, especially in areas of HIV/Aids, TB and other infectious diseases.

If the coronavirus hits us today, a probability which is very high, we would need donor support from these countries we are chiding; but with such insensitive comments coming from a senior cabinet official, such funding can be withheld.

We should not forget that not so long ago we had the Cyclone Idai disaster that killed and displaced thousands of people in Manicaland and it was these aforementioned Western governments that sprang to our rescue by providing humanitarian aid.

In future, President Emmerson Mnangagwa should censure such recklessness from his top officials as it tarnishes the image of the whole country.

While the president has distanced himself from Muchinguri-Kashiri’s utterances by issuing a statement in which he says coronavirus is purely a natural phenomenon that needs scientific solutions and that it was no one’s fault; he should apologise on behalf of his Defence minister and indeed on behalf of Zimbabweans.

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