Thursday, 2 April 2020

ED MEETS TRADITIONAL LEADERS, CHURCHES OVER CORONAVIRUS

President Mnangagwa yesterday met national executive members of the Zimbabwe Chiefs Council and representatives of religious groups to update them on Covid-19 and Government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The two meetings were held separately at State House. The President briefed the two groups on the 21-day lockdown which began on Monday.

The religious groups’ leaders were drawn from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC), the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe (SCIAZ) and the Zimbabwe Indigenous Interdenominational Council of Churches (ZIICC).

Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Harare, Robert Ndlovu, who was representing the ZCBC offered Government the use of 55 health institutions run by the church.

“We have 55 health institutions that include, hospitals, clinics and rural health centres and we offer these to Government for use in the fight against the pandemic.

“We have also cancelled mass gatherings to allow self-isolation,” he said. 

Archbishop Ndlovu said Catholics in various professional fields were also fund-raising to buy protective equipment and other materials needed in the fight against the disease.

ZCC’s representative, Reverend Samuel Sifelani said they had already issued pastoral statements advising their membership on how to conduct themselves in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

“We also have various health centres across the country and these are open for Government’s use in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.

President of the EFZ, Bishop Never Mparutsa said: “We believe the limit of 50 (number of people in a gathering) is still too high given the danger posed by the virus.

“We have been mobilising resources to assist Government and our members also run hospitals and other facilities that are available to Government. If things become tough, we are also willing to offer some of our Church buildings for use possibly as quarantine centres.” 

President Mnangagwa greets Reverend Samuel Sifelani using a quick right kick, quick left kick approach at State House in Harare yesterday during his interface with church leaders on Covid-19 measures. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu

President of the SCIAZ, Sheikh Ismail Duwa said they had closed mosques to the public and were encouraging their members to pray at home adding they had also established a Covid-19 Muslim Taskforce. 

“Prior to the national lockdown, the Covid-19 Muslim Taskforce went under necessary training focusing on the novel corona virus and had commenced a countrywide outreach health, educational and awareness tours in different provinces of the country.

“All this was being guided by the Presidential directives on preventing the spread of the corona virus,” Sheikh Duwa said.

ZIICC representative Reverend Andrew Wutawunashe also offered his organisation’s facilities to Government saying the illegal sanctions imposed on the country were hampering efforts to fight the disease.

“On the basis of humanitarian considerations I would want to say sanctions must be removed.

“The situation we are in affects all of us and doesn’t consider who you are so the sanctions must be removed,” he said.

In his remarks President Mnangagwa said religious groups had a role to play in the fight against the pandemic.

“To you heads of churches and religious groups, this is the message I wish to convey to your congregants so that together we fight this pandemic. Where we are failing as Government, as secular authorities at the end of the day all of us are at the hands of God himself and his wishes and you are the only people who can intercede between us and the Lord above.

“This is why we say to you this is the challenge facing us as a nation and we have a role to play. In your case you have two roles, the physical role to play where you advise and assist the congregants and the second role is the spiritual role which guides the nation spiritually,” President Mnangagwa.

Addressing the traditional leaders earlier, President Mnangagwa said chiefs were the custodians of people in rural areas and had a pivotal role to play in educating them about Covid-19.

“In our country there is an outbreak of a disease called coronavirus or Covid-19,” said President Mnangagwa.

“We are told that this disease is highly contagious. We are being advised that people should maintain social distance and wash their hands regularly. We should wash our hands using running water and wear masks as well. We received assistance from our friends and materials are arriving in the country. Our Health and Child Care Minister (Dr Obadiah Moyo) is in charge of the distribution. We resolved that each province should have an isolation centre.”

President Mnangagwa said Covid-19 started in urban areas and no case had been recorded yet in the rural areas.

President Mnangagwa said the disease had been detected in Harare and Victoria Falls with eight confirmed cases including one death.

“The World Health Organisation recommended for a lockdown of 21 days as part of controlling the disease and after deliberating as leadership we resolved to do that here starting on March 31.
  
“About 60 percent of our population is in the rural areas and that is where you are as traditional leaders. All the confirmed cases that we have have been recorded in urban areas so people are running to the rural areas. We then said how can we resolve this and agreed that we should talk to traditional leaders. People in the rural areas are under your structures including the village heads and we expect you to go and teach people about this disease. Tell them that unnecessary gathering has been banned for 21 days. If there is a funeral, we are only allowing 50 people only because if one person is infected the whole family will also be infected. For the next 21 days, we hope that we may be able to contain the spread of the disease and new infections,” he said.


President Mnangagwa updated the traditional leaders on the invention of a ventilator by the Harare Institute of Technology and efforts being made to manufacture Covid-19 related material locally. Herald


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