Zimbabwe

President back at work . . .Focuses on tackling pandemic, chaotic urban settlements

President Mnangagwa

Fungi Kwaramba

Political Editor

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa officially returned to work yesterday to a hectic schedule that included making far-reaching decisions on the Covid-19 vaccine and its roll-out plan, his spokesperson Mr George Charamba said.

The President who has been at work, albeit unofficially, has assured the nation that no resource will be spared in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, a global pestilence that has forced governments across the globe, including Zimbabwe, to impose national lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus.

In order to save lives, President Mnangagwa extended the current lockdown by two weeks with statistics showing that infections are falling as the general public adheres to social-distancing, wearing face masks and also staying at home.

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As of January 31, Zimbabwe had recorded a cumulative 33 388 Covid-19 cases, 26 044 recoveries and 1 217 deaths, with the country’s recovery rate standing at 78 percent.

To tackle the pandemic, Zimbabwe has a ready US$100 million war chest to procure Covid-19 vaccine doses to inoculate at least 60 percent of the country’s population, a position which would see the nation achieving herd immunity.

While private players are presently drawing plans for procuring vaccines for employees in the private sector, Government has drawn funding for the procurement of about 20 million jabs from last year’s budget surplus, redirection of this year’s budgeted resources and support from the donor community.

The vaccines will be secured through an African Union-led initiative that has so far procured over 270 million vaccines for the continent, which will be allocated according to a country’s population size.

In an interview Mr Charamba, who is also the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, said Covid-19 featured prominently in the President’s diary yesterday.

“The President is officially back at work, of course he was always at work though it was unofficially. It is a very hectic start that includes taking far-reaching decisions on the Covid-19 vaccine and coming up with a roll-out plan,” said Mr Charamba.

In a statement recently, the President said Government is engaging countries which have developed vaccines, and “help and relief are on the way”.

“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.”

The President said only vaccines that would have been proven safe and effective would be introduced in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa is preparing for the African Union Summit, the annual meeting of states and Governments that will this year be held virtually owing to the Covid-19 scourge.

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“The President also dealt with matters to do with foreign affairs, bearing in mind that it is his department directly, key decisions include, decisions on the forthcoming African Union (AU) Summit that will be held virtually at the weekend,” said Mr Charamba.

The President also dealt with issues around illegal settlements in urban areas, a consequence of the illegal and often corrupt parcelling of residential stands to desperate home-seekers by councils and land barons.

“There was also matters to do with the need to deal with the chaotic settlements in urban areas, as you notice it’s a clearly growing problem,” said Mr Charamba.

Due to the current wet spell, houses in Chitungwiza, parts of Harare, Gweru and Mutare and other cities were flooded, exposing the local authorities for parcelling stands on wetlands.

Government has vowed to clean-up the urban councils’ mess by building decent houses that have water, roads and sewage reticulation facilities.

HERALD