Tuesday 17 March 2020


Government has declared the coronavirus pandemic a State of National Disaster, postponed Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), all independence celebrations, and banned public gatherings of more than 100 people for 60 days, including church services, weddings and all international sporting fixtures.

The measures were announced by President Mnangagwa at State House yesterday in his State Of the Nation Address (SONA) which outlined sweeping precautions taken by the Government to control the new virus that has already affected some countries in southern Africa.

Declaring the pandemic a State of National Disaster allows the Government to raise and use more resources.

While there have been no confirmed cases of CovID-19 in Zimbabwe, the Government has put the country on high alert, with screening and testing, and the latest moves reinforce this state of preparation. 

The school term, which has only two more weeks to run, will not be affected by the ban unless there are extraordinary situations.

Should the situation escalate, the President said the Government would not hesitate to take further and even more drastic measures for the country’s common good.

Resources originally earmarked for a series of national events would now be channelled towards strengthening systems to defend the country from coronavirus and for drought mitigation efforts.

“With immediate effect and for a unified and coordinated effort, I have directed that our national disaster management machinery extends its mandate and focus on dealing with the pandemic, with the Ministry of Health and Child Care as the lead agency… 

“Government has decided to postpone, curtail or cancel public events, gatherings and activities. In that respect, Government has postponed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, all national independence celebrations previously planned and pending international sporting fixtures until the threat of coronavirus recedes. All these activities will resume as soon as we are satisfied that our nation is no longer at risk. 

President Mnangagwa giving a state of the nation address on COVID 19 virus at state house yesterday. Picture by John Manzongo

“Resources originally earmarked for these events will now be redirected towards strengthening our defences against the coronavirus and towards drought mitigation. Gatherings of more than 100 people, including those for purposes of worship and weddings stand suspended for the next 60 days after which the suspension will be reviewed.”

President Mnangagwa said curtailment of unnecessary travel to high risk countries remained in force and visitors from the same countries are also encouraged to postpone their travel arrangements to Zimbabwe for the next 30 days.

He said major ports of entry would remain open but screening, testing and other recommended World Health Organisation measures would be enforced vigorously.

However, all designated small border crossings will stand closed until further notice. Designated small border crossings are entry points that allow communities living in border areas to visit each other without using passports but passes. They are thinly manned and thus not equipped to deal with the coronavirus.

“To reduce the likelihood of infections and the spread of the coronavirus, Government has now put all hospitals and health facilities on high alert for (Covid-19),” said President Mnangagwa. 

“Kits and other accessories for screening, handling, testing and treatment continue to be availed. More isolation and treatment centres are being identified, designated and equipped appropriately.

“A national communication taskforce on the virus and for disseminating accurate information and raising general national awareness on the pandemic will be immediately constituted.

“Going forward, our monthly National Clean Up Exercise must henceforth, incorporate heightened awareness on the virus, including measures, which experts recommend to ensure highest standards of public hygiene. Now is the time to show unity of purpose in our nation. We have to reach out to each other in fighting this deadly pandemic.”

As such President Mnangagwa said: “We either unite in fighting it or it forces us together in shared grief. The choice is that stark and ours to make. That choice has to be now while there is still time.”

President Mnangagwa said the adverse effects of the virus across the globe had affected implementation of some projects in the country notably in transport and infrastructure development.

He said lives had been lost across the globe and thus Zimbabwe should join hands with the rest of the world in fighting the virus.

“While we are relieved that our country is still free from this virus, which continues to spread elsewhere across persons, communities, countries and continents, we stand in full solidarity with all the peoples and nations of the world so far affected by the pandemic,” said President Mnangagwa.

“Nations of the world have to stand together. We are under no illusion that what befalls our global neighbours today may not eventually hit us and also affect our communities tomorrow.” Herald


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