After an extremely difficult two weeks during which a staggering 491 people died of Covid-19 out of 10 508 infections, the nation desperately needed a lift, a message of hope.
Over the period, new cases and fatalities reached their highest level yet since March. Among them are some high profile fatalities including three ministers, countless wealthy businesspeople, academics and ordinary Zimbabweans.
Hospitals are under pressure as more cases present for treatment.
It was a tough time, bleak to some extent.
President Mnangagwa delivered that message of hope on Saturday. In an address to the nation, he was honest to observe that the Covid-19 challenge was huge. There is a possibility that infections and fatalities will rise, he warned.
The second wave of the disease has been a “grim harvest,” he worried, with a new strain that spreads faster and is more destructive.
There are no spectators, adjudicators, supermen or superwomen with this disease; it respects no race or political affiliation, he added. To capture the full extent of the difficulty the country is facing, the President deployed some war language substantially.
He however, had a welcome message of hope. The average recovery rate is increasing again while an intervention in the form of a vaccine to curb the disease is on its way. No resource would be spared in the acquisition and deployment of the vaccine to everyone who wants to be inoculated, he emphasised.
“Let me remind each and every one of us that we have been through worse challenges as a people,” said the President.
“Challenges we have had to confront alone, when the greater part of the world moved on with indifference, or was even complicit in seeking our ruin. We have confronted danger on our own, with a few allies and friends. Yet we overcame, which is why our nation stands to this day. Come to think of it, some forty years ago, we were not even a nation. Before then, we were in the throes of a vicious war for our national Independence.
We lived and took each day at a time. All looked desperate. Yet here we are today, a free people and a free nation!
Yes, we overcame, thanks to our unity, collective determination and shared sense of common purpose. Yes, we triumphed, the same way we will triumph yet again. Now is the time to strengthen that unity, determination and shared sense of purpose. We face a new kind of war, but a war nevertheless. We face a new enemy, but a common enemy nevertheless. As before, we summon that inner resource, individually and collectively, to yet again win the war, vanquish the enemy.”
The coronavirus is truly an adversary such as one faces in a more regular war. In any war, an adversary seeks to injure or kill you when you drop your guard. But if we keep our guard, deploy our best weaponry against that enemy in unity as any disciplined force, we will conquer just as we did in 1980.
We appeal to our people to take heed of what the President said on Saturday, which message he has been giving us since March. We must maintain social distance, always mask up appropriately when we are in public places, maintain high hand and respiratory hygiene and seek medical attention as soon as we think that we are unwell.
When the vaccine comes, which will be very soon as the President said, we would not have lost too many lives unnecessarily.
“Help and relief are on the way,” he said.
“Our experts who have been assessing different vaccines, are very close to finalising the course to recommend to our nation. A course which brings in relief, and which we will roll out across the length and breadth of our nation, so we do not lose more lives than has become inevitable. A course which ensures that the vaccines we introduce in our bodies are both safe and effective.
Consultations are underway with the private sector to ensure we pool our efforts and resources for a definitive national response. We will spare no effort, spare no resource, to save the lives of Zimbabweans.”
We are in a challenging phase as a nation, but through religiously upholding the dictates of the lockdown — staying at home, masking up, regularly washing our hands and observing social distance — this war is winnable.