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Ncube, Mangwiro engage funeral directors on Covid-19 challenges


Dakarai Mashava


FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube will headline a discussion forum to be convened tomorrow by the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) via Zoom on the funeral sector’s capacity to handle rising Covid-19 deaths.

Ncube will share the podium with Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro at the forum, which is taking place against the backdrop of alarming Covid-19 deaths and infections.

Apart from the two government ministers, the ANZ — publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday — has put together a high-powered panel that includes Grace Muradzikwa, head of the Insurance and Pensions Commission.

Other speakers include Nyaradzo Funeral Services general manager Batsirai Simango, Zimbabwe Association of Funeral Assurers (Zafa) president Solomon Chikanda, Doves Life Assurance managing director Talent Maziwisa and Harare City Council health services director Prosper Chonzi.

Zafa is co-hosting the event.

Lewis Chikurunhe, the commercial director for ANZ, yesterday urged participants to register early, saying slots for the virtual meeting were limited.

“The discussions will centre on the need to guarantee the survival of the funeral sector in Zimbabwe in the wake of the debilitating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Industry players and other key stakeholders cannot afford to miss this timely opportunity to add their voices to the discussions and chart the way forward for the good of their enterprises. It’s a responsibility they cannot afford to delegate!

“As organisers of the event, we’re extremely delighted that the ministry of Finance and Economic Development shall be represented at the highest level, and so shall be the ministry of Health and Child Care.

This demonstrates the seriousness they are according the discussion.

“Executives in the funeral sector have the fiduciary responsibility to guarantee survival of their companies for the good of their shareholders, employees and other stakeholders. The opportunity is now to engage government and other stakeholders in conversations that can move the industry forward,” said Chikurunhe.

The webinar is coming at a time Zimbabwe’s funeral industry is facing unprecedented challenges. The period between April 2020 and now has been particularly wearisome for the industry as everything that shouldn’t have gone wrong, has gone adrift.

The rising death toll has meant that the industry is now overwhelmed and is reaching a point of incapacitation to deal with the tragedy.

Chikurunhe said since the onset of the second wave, there is now a realisation that the years of investment made in infrastructure by players in the industry is hardly adequate to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude, adding that practical measures have to be urgently implemented by all stakeholders to salvage the situation.

Chikurunhe is confident that the webinar would come up with useful recommendations to rescue the funeral sector.

“Our Events Division rarely misses the opportunity to play its part in promoting dialogue and coming up with solutions to critical national issues.

“Given what is happening in the funeral sector, we felt strongly that this is an issue which we cannot leave to the funeral directors alone. Our role is to bring all concerned to dialogue frankly about these challenges and hopefully fashion solutions that could work for the better of everyone concerned.

“We are therefore expecting all players in the industry to participate in their numbers, speak with one voice and reason with the government on how we can navigate this crisis in the industry,” said Chikurunhe.

Apart from auditing the state of the funeral sector, the webinar, to run under the theme ‘Dealing with headwinds in the funeral sector under Covid-19,’ will also look at the legal and regulatory frameworks guiding the sector as well as Covid-19 regulations and the safety of staff.

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