Zimbabwe’s minister of defence and war veterans, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, claims the coronavirus was unleashed by God to deal with US President Donald Trump and other Western countries for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Speaking on Saturday at a Zanu-PF meeting, as the party’s chairperson, Muchinguri-Kashiri said: “Coronavirus is the work of God punishing countries that imposed sanctions on us. They are now keeping indoors. Their economies are screaming just like they did to ours. Trump should know that he is not God.”
The minister’s comments come at a time when Zimbabwe has not officially registered a coronavirus case, but the Senior Hospitals Doctors Association argues that the country is ill-prepared and incapacitated to detect the virus.
In February, the European Union removed the late former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, from its sanctions list but maintained sanctions on his widow, Grace Mugabe, as well as Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda as well as the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), which is the government’s weapons dealership.
Last week the US extended targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe, and ministry of information and broadcasting services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said: “We find this a baffling position.”
Opposition politicians, activists and ordinary Zimbabweans took to social media to attack the minister for her “stigmatisation” of the epidemic and “bankruptcy of ideas”.
Former adviser to the late prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Dr Alex Magaisa, through his Twitter handle @Wamagaisa, said the minister was “ignorant and callous”.
Exiled former Zanu-PF spin doctor Prof Jonathan Moyo said because of the way government was treating the coronavirus epidemic, Zimbabweans were alone in the fight, lacking political leadership.
“The first duty of government in a constitutional democracy is the health, safety and welfare of its citizens. Nothing has demonstrated this principle than how governments are protecting their citizens from the coronavirus pandemic. Zimbabweans are on their own with no protection,” he said.
Some Zimbabweans feel Zimbabwe has no communication plan for crisis management of the coronavirus.