TWO influential figures in our sports fraternity, bravely chose to do the right thing this week, revealing they had tested positive for Covid-19.
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister, Tino Machakaire, revealed his status on Thursday.
A day, earlier, the founding leader of the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association, Eddie “Mboma’’ Nyatanga, made public the results of his Covid-19 test.
“I am writing to inform you that I have tested positive for Covid-19,” Machakaire said. “I am appealing to all those who I have had physical contact with me, recently, to get tested.
“The sooner one knows their status the better as that will minimise the number of those one will infect.”
The Deputy Minister is now in self-isolation, at his farm, as he follows the medical instructions he is getting from authorities as he fights this deadly virus.
A day before Machakaire’s announcement, ZNSSA patron, Nyatanga, who for years has been the leader of the grouping which represents fans of our national football teams, also revealed he had tested positive for Covid-19.
“My close friends, and all those in sport in general, and football in particular, can now understand that the virus is real,’’ said Nyatanga.
“I have decided to reveal my status for the love of my friends and Zimbabweans. Everyone is at risk, as it stands. I am requesting that the authorities conduct door-to-door tests, both at business premises and homes.
“It’s now clear that the eye of the coronavirus storm of passing through our communities. A few months ago, we used to watch from a distance, telling each other that this had nothing to do with us, but a concern for some countries far away from here.
“This has changed dramatically and what we do now will be decisive in helping us tame this monster.’’
What has charmed us is that we are beginning to see people, who occupy key public portfolios and, wield significant influence, coming out to reveal their positive status when it comes to Covid-19.
Machakaire did not try to hide his status, at a time when Covid-19 still carries a stigma within our society, but chose to inform the nation so that, by doing so, he can help fight this unnecessary stigma.
Crucially, the other big message was that this is a virus which anyone of us can get. And, therefore, as he clearly spelt out in his message, it was important for all of us to choose caution and follow all the guidelines, including social distancing and the wearing of standard masks, coming from the medical experts.
The Wedza South Constituency legislator, who has gone into quarantine, also appealed to those infected by the virus not to come into contact with others, because that’s the way this virus has been spreading among our communities, but to remain in isolation.
Machakaire’s voice carries a lot of weight. After all, he is part of the leadership, together with his immediate boss in Government, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, of the country’s youth.
He is also part of the leadership of the country’s sport, arts and recreation.
Throughout his time in public office, either as the Deputy Minister or the Wedza South Constituency legislator, Machakaire has distinguished himself as a man of the people.
He has been leading from the front, whether be it in the national effort to transform the National Sports Stadium into a facility which we all can be proud of yet again, or in interacting with the youth, who are the future of our country, to try and guide them on the right path.
That’s why we believe his public announcement, that he has contracted Covid-19, is important because in bringing down the walls of stigma, which we have, unfortunately, seen being built around those who get infected by this virus.
It is important, in our war against this pandemic, for us to acknowledge that this virus has spread its tentacles within our communities and everyone has a big part to play to ensure that, ultimately, we will beat its deadly fangs.
This can only be done if we are united, as country, where we all follow the guidelines coming from our health experts. Before this pandemic spilled onto our doorsteps, it had already inflicted untold devastation across other parts of the world in Asia, Europe and North and South America.
Prominent personalities, across the globe, have tested positive to the disease. They include Arsenal manager, Mikel Aterta, who was one of the first high-profile football personalities to test positive, but recovered to guide his team to their 14th FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Chelsea in the final at Wembley on Saturday.
Arteta, just like Machakaire and Nyatanga, carries significant influence in this country, carries significant influence, across the global football world because of his job as Arsenal manager.
When he tested positive to the virus, he didn’t hide his condition, but came out to tell the world that he had become the latest person to be infected. He withdrew from the public limelight and went into isolation, as part of the guidelines from the medical experts, and found a way to beat the virus.
Unfortunately, we still have pockets of resistance, from within our communities, with some people, strangely, not willing to follow the guidelines coming from the medical experts.
We have people who still find it difficult to even wear a mask, in public, even though this is part of the key recommendations of the medical experts.
We hope that as influential voices like Machakaire and Nyatanga speak out, as people who are now fighting to defeat this deadly virus, their messages will appeal to a large section of our society and, together, as a united country, we can fight, and conquer, this pandemic.