At least 182 Zimbabweans aboard a cruise ship have docked in Namibia and will come home once suitable transport arrangements are made.
The returnees are coming back home amid rising numbers of Covid-19 positive cases which have now reached 149 after 17 more people tested positive yesterday. The cumulative number of tests done is now 40 847 with 28 recoveries and four deaths.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo said Zimbabwe’s embassy in Namibia was liaising with the Namibian Government to organise the return home of the Zimbabweans.
“There are 182 Zimbabweans in the ship and it was meant to be docking yesterday (Wednesday) or today (yesterday). The owners are from the United States and are pursuing options to get them here,” Minister Moyo said.
Earlier at State House President Mnangagwa had acknowledged the presence of the Zimbabweans on the ship while receiving donations from several organisations to help fight the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The President said the returning citizens would be welcomed home but would all have to undergo quarantine and testing measures recommended by the World Health Organisation, before they finally joined their families.
He said the Zimbabweans were coming from a number of countries, with even Iceland listed.
“Because they are Zimbabweans, they are our people. We will welcome them. They are our citizens. We need to receive them.”
Zimbabwean citizens residing or working in various places across the world are returning following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. While most are returning from South Africa, Botswana and the United Kingdom, there are others who have to make more complex journeys and travel arrangements across numerous national lockdowns to come home.
“We need to ensure that as they come back home they adhere to the regulations, the processes, the guidelines set by WHO,” said the President.
Upon their arrival, returning citizens and residents stay at a quarantine centre as near to their hometown as possible. They are tested on the first and eighth days. If the tests are both negative they are then allowed home where they must stay until the mandatory 21-day quarantine period is finished and they can be certified as non-infectious.
If a test shows that they are infected, then they move to an isolation hospital for treatment until they are better and no longer infectious.
As of yesterday the country had recorded 132 patients, with the overwhelming majority being identified in quarantine centres and only a few being infected within the country, showing the effectiveness of the quarantine system.
Most of the people housed in those centres were coming from South Africa and Botswana.
Prior to these remarks, President Mnangagwa had received goods from several organisations to fight the pandemic. Vice Presidents Chiwenga and Mohadi and senior Government officials attended the ceremony.
Dalaglio Mining Group donated 30 tonnes of roller meal and 500 blankets through its chief finance officer Mr Joseph Crnkovic. The company operates Peakstone Peerless Mine in Chegutu and Eureka Gold Mine in Guruve.
The company has invested US$19 million out of the US$50 million budgeted for this year and expects to produce over 2 400kg of gold a year when fully operational.
“We are committed to this investment and we believe in your Vision 2030 of making this country a middle income economy by 2030,” he said.
The company is giving food hampers to their employees and surrounding communities.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority gave six tonnes of roller meal, six tonnes of salt, 600 litres of cooking oil, 3 000 bars of washing soap and 600 cases of mineral water.
The insurance and pensions industry said they had contributed $100 million in initiatives that include free $20 million life cover for frontline workers and provision of personal protective equipment and funding for universities to produce sanitisers and protective equipment.
Telecel Zimbabwe said its platforms had been used to raise awareness campaigns, including toll-free numbers to enable people access information about the disease. The company provided 12 fixed cellular lines within the Covid-19 call centre.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora Fund Raising Campaign UK donated sanitisers and face masks and $500 000.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints donated 5 000 tonnes of maize.
CBZ Holdings donated 5 000 litres of sanitisers and $6 million that will go towards the refurbishment of St Anne’s Hospital in Harare, which is being done in partnership with Solidarity Trust, and an ambulance.
Amandiyi Group donated 3 000 tonnes of roller meal, 600kg each of rice, salt and flour, 300kg of soya chunks and 600 litres of cooking oil.
President Mnangagwa thanked them all for their gifts.
“May I express my deep appreciation as Government to the communities you represent. This is demonstrative of the compassion our people have for one another.
“I am happy that despite the challenges we face, upon appeal to our people here in Zimbabwe and abroad, the response has been overwhelming,” he said.
He said Africa had been spared the devastating effects of the disease but had to remain on guard because the infection rates had not peaked. The President added that schools would remain closed until it was safe to re-open, saying preservation of pupils’ lives was on top of his priorities.