Support growing for pandemic fight
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabweans from all walks of life are supporting the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic following President Mnangagwa’s appeal last week with the flow of donations rising daily.
Thanking Zimbabweans for their support at State House yesterday after receiving donations from companies and universities, President Mnangagwa said every Zimbabwean had a role to play and that the nation would emerge stronger.
The latest gifts include money, in both local and foreign currency, fuel, sanitisers, soaps and other disinfectants, personal protective clothing and medicines.
Yesterday’s event was attended by members of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 chaired by Vice President Kembo Mohadi.
The President noted that freedoms of movement and association had been affected, but this was necessary to preserve life.
“The freedoms of individuals have been affected but we have to make a choice whether to allow people to enjoy their freedom or swim with the pandemic and as a Government we have chosen to preserve life.
“We are grateful for the support that you are providing; this is what makes Zimbabwe a solid nation even in bad times or good. I think we will emerge from this pandemic stronger,” President Mnangagwa said.
“It is important that every individual and every organisation contributes to the mobilisation of equipment that would be used by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in fighting this pandemic.
“Everything that is being received is being documented and nothing is deemed small or big,” President Mnangagwa said.
He added that Zimbabwe would continue to do its best in curbing the spread of the virus despite inadequate resources.
“We belong to the group of developing countries who have very weak economic and undeveloped health sector services and for Zimbabwe that is compounded by the fact of sanctions imposed on us.
“We however, as Government and as a people are determined to do our best to put in place measures, those measures pronounced by WHO, which we think can contribute to the reduction of the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
While the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths were low, Zimbabwe had to remain vigilant as projections showed that they could be an upsurge of infections in the coming few weeks.
The President first received US$35 200, $140 000, two boreholes, 10 000 litres of fuel and sanitisers from the Indigenous Petroleum Association of Zimbabwe represented by Mr Bowasi Mapiro.
Petrotrade donated 35 000 litres through acting chief executive officer Godfrey Ncube. The fuel has been allocated to frontline workers tasked with responding to Covid-19 cases.
Energy Park Bulk Fuel through its general manager Nigel Chimbwanda donated 2 000 face masks, 5 000 litres of hand sanitisers and 7 000 pairs of gloves.
Seven State universities and colleges handed over sanitisers and protective clothing. Harare Institute of Technology, National University of Science and Technology, University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, Bindura University of Science Education, Great Zimbabwe University and Chinhoyi University of Technology have all embarked on production of needed sanitisers and equipment.
Sugar manufacturer, Tongaat Huelett gave 300 000 litres of ethanol, a key ingredient in the production of hand sanitisers. Under WHO guidelines most sanitisers comprise ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and glycerine with ethanol being the major ingredient.
The company also gave personal protective equipment for the seven districts in Masvingo province and will establish five Covid-19 centres in the province and rehabilitate water reticulation at isolation centres in Chiredzi, with the total gift valued at $12 million.
Drax International, through country representative Mr Dileshy Nguwaya, donated drugs worth US$200 000 for patients infected by Covid-19. The company has also offered Government a US$60 million facility to procure drugs including those for Covid-19 patients. The facility would be accessed on a monthly basis.
Natpharm managing director Flora Sifeku briefed the President on donations received from China that included an assortment of personal protective equipment and other equipment like thermometers.
Ecobank gave US$30 000 that would go towards procuring test kits and said it had embarked on a crowd funding initiative to raise money from their partners and clients.
Mining houses, through the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines (ZCM), gave US$1 million plus materials to rehabilitate and make ready health centres to receive Covid-19 patients and procure sanitisers, ventilators and other equipment.
Caledonia Mining, through its Zimbabwean subsidiary, gave $8 million to the fight that will be channelled through the chamber of mines and an equal amount that will go through Government.
The company has also pledged to cater for the needs of the community in Gwanda and the establishment of an isolation centre at Mangwe District Hospital.
Unki Mine gave US$500 000 for health institutions and procurement of 10 ventilators in the Midlands while Trojan and Fredda Rebecca mines gave hydrogen peroxide for disinfection.
Zimplats, through chief executive officer Alex Mhembere, pledged to provide equipment to hospitals in Kadoma, Chegutu, Norton, Mamina, Mubaira and Wilkins Hospitals.
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Mining Company has also set aside US$100 000 for the Covid-19 fight in Manicaland with the money going towards procuring sanitisers and equipment, including personal protective equipment, and awareness campaigns.
The Zimbabwe Miners Federation through its president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya gave 3 000 face masks and pledged to provide an additional 24 000.
On Tuesday, the President briefed religious leaders on national efforts being made to combat Covid-19.
The first group represented the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Indigenous Interdenominational Council of Churches.
A second group came from the Hindu, Jewish, Orthodox and Hellenic communities, groups that have cultural as well as religious roles.
“We are saying, we need everybody, Government will do its part; civil society does its part,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said that he met traditional leaders and church leaders last week, to update them on Covid-19 and Government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
“I met with some of the churches. They have pledged to avail some of their hospitals, clinics and church infrastructure for use as isolation centres, which of course require to be spruced up by putting the necessary requirements for them to be used as isolation centres.
“Then thereafter we met the business community across the board, industry, commerce, agriculture, mining and tourism. And of course we said we would want to see these sectors contributing towards mobilising of resources to fight the pandemic. So many things are required – things like masks, the gloves, the sanitisers and many others. Initially, we began through our Minister looking for these things,” he said.
“So we began rubbing shoulders with the big guys. You go to the United Kingdom, you go to India, you go to China, you find the same, they are looking for the same items we want. They have more muscle than ourselves,” he said.
President Mnangagwa also applauded local manufacturing companies for changing their lines of production to produce materials required for the Covid-19 fight.
He also briefed the religious groups on measures put in place by Government to curb the spread of the pandemic such as limiting the movement of people, the 21-day lockdown and stopping foreigners from visiting the country.
In addition, he said: “Because industry and commerce have been closed down, there is no production in industry or in commerce, so our exports have come to a standstill.
“Our imports are now constrained, we can’t bring things in, but of course we have agreed that we continue to allow commercial vehicles to cross between our countries strictly commercial vehicles so that we can keep some of the basic needs in and out between the surrounding countries.
“So we are in this together, we must share this together and we need everybody to contribute in fighting this pandemic. Nothing is big and nothing is small. Any contribution is appreciated but it must be voluntary. No one is forced to do things they do not want to do. It must be voluntary,”.
Mr Vinay Ramabhai from the Hindu community in Zimbabwe said they had been part of Zimbabwe for many years.
“We are already putting efforts to ensure we provide donations to fight the pandemic. We have already identified the centres, which we are going to assist. A few enterprising young stars of ours, have started mobilising resources world over for Zimbabwe towards the fight against the pandemic. When the resources arrive in the country we will present them,” said Mr Ramabhai.