Joseph Madzimure, Harare Bureau
ZANU-PF has postponed this year’s first Central Committee meeting, which was scheduled for this week in a move that reinforces Government’s recent crafting of sweeping measures to control the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking at the Politburo meeting at the party headquarters in Harare this morning, Zanu-PF First Secretary President Mnangagwa said the Central Committee meeting, which had been scheduled for this week had been postponed until further notice.
“As you aware, our party’s constitution obligates us to meet as the Central Committee at least three times a year, in Ordinary Session. The practice is that our meetings are held at the end of every quarter. Hence, this Politburo meeting would ordinarily be followed by the Central Committee meeting. However, due to the prevailing circumstances and the measures we have put in place to avert the spread of Covid 19, the scheduled meetings of the Central Committee stand postponed until further notice,” said the President.
He challenged the party leadership to lead by example in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.
The Politburo meeting was held at the main hall instead of the usual boardroom as a way of practicing social distancing.
“As the party leadership we must lead by example by continuing to practice social distancing, it is in that spirit that we are holding this meeting in this hall as opposed to our usual venue,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa said a raft of measures had been put in place at Government level to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
“On the 17th of March 2020, we declared Covid-19 a national disaster. This declaration gave us the legal basis to unlock certain resources and put in place measures that would not be possible under a normal situation. Since then the global pictures have been shocking and devastating both in terms of loss of life and impact on the global economy.
“To date we have recorded two cases of infection, both of them imported. Sadly, one of the patients has since passed on. The entry of the pandemic into our own jurisdiction together with the ever-increasing infections and deaths worldwide has led us to review our situation in order to strengthen our defences. I therefore announced on Monday 23rd March, more elaborate measures meant to curtail the spread of the virus as well as mitigate the impact of the virus on our population and the economy in general,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa appealed to the citizens to exercise social responsibility. “I continue to appeal to our citizens to exercise social responsibility. Those involved in the manufacturing and trading of essential commodities such as masks, sanitisers among other items are dissuaded from charging exorbitant prices,” he said.
He said Government has released additional resources towards the procurement of safety clothing. “We are grateful to the many the health services personnel who are at the frontline of addressing this pandemic. Their concerns and those of the nation have been noted and will be addressed,” he said.
He challenged party members to adjust their lives and party activities accordingly in the wake of this lethal health threat.
“As Government we will continue to ensure that there is a continuous supply of grain and other essential commodities,” he said.
He urged senior party members to disseminate the correct information about Covid-19.
“At party level let us continue to disseminate the correct information about Covid-19 as well as the appropriate messages of reassurance and hope to our people.
“Let us always be guided by the true spirit of Ubuntu/Hunhu in all our actions and speech, by rebuking opportunists who may want to gain some perceived political mileage from this health catastrophe. Covid-19 knows no political affiliation, social class or ethnic group. We must all stay safe,” said the President.
Some of the measures put in place to control to curtail the spread of Coronavirus are border controls.
The President said borders would remain open to essential traffic.
“Inessential travel and traffic, whether in- bound or out-bound has been banned. All our borders will be closed to human traffic. The movement of cargo, will continue. This will not affect returning residents. The screening of essential traffic will continue to be strictly enforced, in line with best practices and guidelines prescribed by the World Organisation (WHO). Measures on designated border crossings remain in force,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said returning residents would be subjected to strict screening procedures.
This will include rigorous enforcement of the 21-day self- quarantine, which must not be breached for whatever reason.
In addition, the President said: “Certificates of Covid-19 fitness especially from countries with high incidence of infections, would greatly assist all of us in controlling the pandemic both inside our country and globally.”
On travelling within the country, President Mnangagwa said Government discouraged unnecessary travel in and around the country, from now until further notice. “To the extent possible, families are encouraged to postpone non-essential travel. Unnecessary movements beyond homes, including social visits to relatives and friends should be avoided. Essential trips should be trimmed to the barest minimum, both by frequency and by numbers involved,” he said.
On ban on entertainment and recreational activities, the President said there was a blanket ban on gatherings around night-clubs, bars beer halls, movie houses, public swimming pools, gyms and sporting facilities, until further notice.
Hospital visits and clinic visits, President said, would be reduced to one visit per day, and even one relative visitor per patient, with immediate effect.
Some of the measures discussed were reducing of public gatherings to 50 people, e-services, whereby automated electronic services must be encouraged wherever possible.
On informal markets, President said people should minimise visits to such markets.
“Health and security personnel as well as other volunteers will be deployed to these markets to enhance screening services,” he said.
He encouraged public transport operators to comply with public health measures which Government will announce soon.
On contact tracing and decongestion of workplaces, he said control and containment measures depended on ability to track down and account for all persons who may have come in close contact with an infected person.
Members of the public are encouraged to cooperate with enforcements agencies deployed on such tracing operations.
He also encouraged businesses to explore creative ways to reduce human concentration at work stations.
“Social distancing must also be observed. Where possible non-essential or essential staff must be encouraged to take turns or work from home.