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#Coronavirus: Zimbabwean opposition party cancels meetings over marauding disease

Brian Sibanda

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s arcane opposition party, ZAPU, says it has suspended its rallies and meetings that were slated for the remainder of this month due to the rising fears of the novel Corona virus.

Zapu, whose 1963 splinter, Zanu (PF), has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is in the process of preparing for a congress that is set to find substantive leadership, following the fall of party President Dumiso Dabengwa last year. The party is currently being led by Isaac Mabuka on a caretaker basis.

Although Zimbabwe has not reported any Covid-19 case, party spokesman Iphithule Maphosa said in a statement this week that the party, which rejoined hands with Zanu (PF) in a lofty Unity Accord in 1987 but unceremoniously pulled out 11 years later, had suspended all its scheduled meeting indefinitely.

“All (ZAPU) public meetings and rallies have been suspended indefinitely,” said Maphosa in a statement released Tuesday morning.

“Immediately affected is the Gwanda rally that was scheduled for the 28th of March, Nkayi public meeting that was slated for month end of March as well as the provincial meetings in Bulawayo and Harare in the same month. This further affects all monthly provincial and inter-provincial gatherings.”

The limping party would adopt other communication and interface means of conducting business and programs that do not involve gatherings, “in order to contribute to efforts to combat the spread of the disease among our people and communities”, said Maphosa.

“This is obviously over and above the standard practices recommended by health experts. ZAPU is committed to a #Covid-19 free Zimbabwe and indeed join the whole wide world in fighting the pandemic. With the right mind and attitude, this disease can be put under control and also eradicated.

“As such, we reiterate on our call to the government of Zimbabwe to suspend all gatherings immediately. We call upon them to invest in information dissemination on ways our people can be safe from contracting and spreading the virus. We also call upon the government to ban all travel abroad, isolate all returning travelers and visitors and monitor them for 14 to 21 days, over and above compulsory testing upon return. The government is also obliged to clearly spell out its preparedness plans to combat the spread of the virus to the citizens.”

Taking a cue from the government’s recent message, Mr Maphosa urged Zimbabweans to continue observing and practicing personal hygiene, which would keep them safe.

“Avoid gatherings and crowding. In the event one suspects infection, seek immediate medical attention and also self isolate or quarantine if need be to protect our loved ones from contracting the virus.”

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