The country has been hit hard by Covid-19 in recent weeks with record high infections and deaths.
Apart from record high infections and fatalities, we have been shaken by the very high-profile deaths as well.
Yesterday, we lost Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Sibusiso Moyo days after he contracted the coronavirus. Dr Moyo, a decorated soldier who retired from the army in November 2017 after his appointment as minister by President Mnangagwa, died in Harare aged 59.
“The death early this morning of our Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Major-General (Rtd) Dr SB Moyo, after Covid-19 related complications has come to all of us a great shock,” the President said yesterday.
“On behalf of the ruling party, Zanu-PF, Government, my family, on my own and that of our entire nation, I wish to express my sincere and deep heartfelt condolences to the Moyo family. My heart goes out especially to his wife, Justice Matanda-Moyo, and to the children on their saddest loss. In condoling with them, I urge them to derive solace and comfort from the distinguished role Dr Moyo played in the service of his people and the nation, for which he shall be remembered and honoured across generations.”
He said the late Dr Moyo was determined in executing the Second Republic’s engagement and re-engagement policy through which the country sought to mend relations with the Western countries that imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“In that onerous role, our nation relied on him for a determined execution of our engagement and re-engagement policy through which we sought to embrace the rest of the world, while repairing relations with those countries which had taken positions against us over our legitimate and principled decision to recover our heritage, principally land,” the President said.
Indeed the passing away of Dr Moyo was shattering, coming as it did only days after the country had lost Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Ellen Gwaradzimba (60) and pioneer nationalist, Cde Morton Malianga (91).
The former died of Covid-19 while the latter died of complications associated with old age.
We will remember Dr Moyo for his long and dedicated service to his country since he left Manama High School in Matabeleland South as a 16 year-old to join the liberation struggle.
He was very young but that did not stop him, together with 400 other kids from the same school, from skipping the border into Botswana and later Zambia where he launched his liberation war campaign. He was brilliant academically but chose his country over personal credentials.
Post-Independence, Dr Moyo was one of the not many soldiers who easily combined superior intellect with mastery of the gun. Anyone who has listened to him as he spoke will no doubt agree that Dr Moyo was a man of substance.
Those who have worked with him in the military and out of it speak of how sharp he was academically.
Many will remember him for that epochal 583-word speech he delivered on national television that very early morning on November 15, 2017.
Clad in full military gear, he spoke assuredly updating the nation, and the world on the situation in the country at that time. The situation in the country had “moved to another level” he said, a phrase that has become popular nationally since then.
He made a quick transition to civilian life after his ministerial appointment 15 days later.
His was an unenviable task. Zimbabwe’s relations with the West were very bad, which is why the US and Europe imposed sanctions on the country as punishment for the fast track land reform and redistribution exercise.
Investment from the West had dried up, and our access to their markets was shut. Our country could not access loans from multi-lateral funders.
As President Mnangagwa says, Dr Moyo had the onerous task to get the country back on talking terms with Europe and the US.
He scored many successes.
Among them, formal dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU has been restored and that bloc has removed most of its sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s relations with the US remain fraught, we agree, but there is clear evidence that there has been some talking under Dr Moyo’s tenure as the country’s top diplomat.
We are sad that a brilliant mind and servant of the people has moved to another level so suddenly.