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COVID-19 is sadly still a threat – NewsDay

NEWS that some of the country’s boarding schools have recorded a worrying surge in COVID-19 cases is definitely unwelcome and sad, especially coming as the world was starting to breathe a sigh of relief following a three-year onslaught from the respiratory disease that virtually shut down human activity across the globe.

COVID-19 cases resurfacing at some Mashonaland East schools is a cause for concern and highlights how much the country remains vulnerable to the disease or other similar diseases that have the potential to quickly spread in communities.

Zimbabwe remains very vulnerable because for the past three years it has woefully failed to achieve its 60% herd immunity in its COVID-19 vaccination drive. The country has barely managed to vaccinate half of its intended target with a mere 40,3% having received a single dose, while 29,7%  have been fully vaccinated.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO): “From 3 January 2020 to 5:17pm CET, 20 January 2023, there have been 259 947 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 5 635 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 12 November 2022, a total of 12 694 853 vaccine doses have been administered.”

It is quite disheartening that the majority of Zimbabweans appear not to have heeded the call to be vaccinated and as the disease seems to be on the wane, the country’s nationals have altogether abandoned the idea of getting vaccinated.

The country appears to now have very little to no hope of achieving herd immunity target given that none of the COVID-19 restrictions such as wearing masks and sanitisation are being adhered to. Wearing of masks in public places, though still mandatory, is being scoffed at.

We are, however, afraid to say that this attitude is serving to expose the nation to future health catastrophes. While COVID-19 may appear to be declining, it does not mean that Zimbabwe and the world at large are out of the woods.

For Zimbabwe, that its citizens have literally thumbed their noses at the COVID-19 vaccination initiatives means the country is dangerously exposed to future health hazards. We sincerely hope and pray that the sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19 we are currently witnessing at some of our schools should jolt the nation into being serious about critical matters affecting its wellbeing.

It is, in fact, embarrassing, that a large section of Zimbabweans is among the few global communities that appear not to have taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, despite it having caused so much socio-economic chaos.

More than 6,7 million people have globally succumbed to COVID-19 since it struck in December 2019 and this should galvanise those who have not been vaccinated to do so.

Given the country’s failure to attain herd immunity, we shudder to imagine what would become of the nation if these recurring COVID-19 outbreaks spin out of control.

 

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Zimbabwe approves ‘draconian’ law targeting civil society – News24

  • Zimbabwe’s government has approved legislation that looks to “improve accountability” of charities in the country.
  • It has, however, drawn flak, with critics saying it is a measure to gag civil society groups.
  • Just one senator voted against the legislation.

Zimbabwe’s upper house of parliament has approved legislation that critics say will gag civil society groups, placing them under the threat of harsh sanctions and strict government control.

The senate voted late Wednesday in favour of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill, which needs to be ratified by the president before passing into law. The text sailed through the country’s other chamber of parliament, the National Assembly, late last year.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the law was a “necessary measure to improve the administration, accountability and transparency” of charities working in the country.

He accused some of “directing money to favoured political parties.”

“We cannot run the risk of charities of a public character being used as a cover for theft, embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering or partisan political activities,” Ziyambi told the senate on Wednesday.

Rights groups and opposition parties complain of an increased government clampdown on dissent as the country heads towards general elections later this year.

READ | Protesting Zimbabwe health workers could face jail after new law passed

The bill bans civil society organisations from engaging in politics and allows the state to interfere in their governance and activities, such as making changes to their internal management and funding.

Those found in breach of its provisions risk up to a year in jail and the closure of their organisation.

‘Obscene’ law

Only one senator voted against the law. The chamber is dominated by the ruling ZANU party, with the main opposition group – the Citizens Coalition for Change – holding no seats.

The lone dissenter, Senator Morgen Komichi, called the bill “obscene”, saying NGOs provide key support in areas including health, education and food security.

“Zimbabwe is a country that does not have a strong economy which can cater for every Zimbabwean,” Komichi said.

Critics argue that the law’s broad scope risks de facto criminalising the activity of any organisation disliked by the government.

Some warned it could lead to drastic cuts in foreign aid, which comes through non-governmental organisations, and is estimated to be Zimbabwe’s third-largest revenue stream.

READ | Zimbabwe debuts gold coins as currency

Prominent journalist and activist Hopewell Chin’ono, said on Twitter the “draconian” legislation was similar to an apartheid-era law in South Africa that barred certain civil organisations from receiving foreign aid or funds.

“This is the lowest any modern state can get to. Especially a state that was born through struggle for freedom, independence and democracy,” Peter Mutasa, director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a civil society umbrella group, told AFP.

“We never expected that we could sink this low”.

Up to 18 000 people working for non-governmental organisations in the country risk losing their jobs, he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, faces widespread discontent as he struggles to ease entrenched poverty, end chronic power cuts and brake inflation.


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Zimbabwe approves ‘draconian’ law targeting civil society – Modern Ghana

Zimbabwe’s upper house of parliament has approved legislation that critics say will gag civil society groups, placing them under the threat of harsh sanctions and strict government control.

The senate voted late Wednesday in favour of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill, which needs to be ratified by the president before passing into law. The text sailed through the country’s other chamber of parliament, the National Assembly, late last year.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the law was a “necessary measure to improve the administration, accountability and transparency” of charities working in the country.

He accused some of “directing money to favoured political parties.”

“We cannot run the risk of charities of a public character being used as a cover for theft, embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering or partisan political activities,” Ziyambi told the senate on Wednesday.

Rights groups and opposition parties complain of an increased government clampdown on dissent as the country heads towards general elections later this year.

The bill bans civil society organisations from engaging in politics and allows the state to interfere in their governance and activities, such as making changes to their internal management and funding.

Those found in breach of its provisions risk up to a year in jail and the closure of their organisation.

‘Obscene’ law

Only one senator voted against the law. The chamber is dominated by the ruling ZANU party, with the main opposition group — the Citizens Coalition for Change — holding no seats.

The lone dissenter, Senator Morgen Komichi, called the bill “obscene”, saying NGOs provide key support in areas including health, education and food security.

“Zimbabwe is a country that does not have a strong economy which can cater for every Zimbabwean,” Komichi said.

Critics argue that the law’s broad scope risks de facto criminalising the activity of any organisation disliked by the government.

Some warned it could lead to drastic cuts in foreign aid, which comes through non-governmental organisations, and is estimated to be Zimbabwe’s third-largest revenue stream.

Prominent journalist and activist Hopewell Chin’ono, said on Twitter the “draconian” legislation was similar to an apartheid-era law in South Africa that barred certain civil organisations from receiving foreign aid or funds.

“This is the lowest any modern state can get to. Especially a state that was born through struggle for freedom, independence and democracy,” Peter Mutasa, director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a civil society umbrella group, told AFP.

“We never expected that we could sink this low”.

Up to 18,000 people working for non-governmental organisations in the country risk losing their jobs, he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, faces widespread discontent as he struggles to ease entrenched poverty, end chronic power cuts and brake inflation.

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Zimbabwean pastors flee ministry to join more lucrative care work in … – Baptist News Global

Zimbabwe is blighted by a fearsome 240% inflation rate, one of the world’s highest. The nation’s pastors, although dedicated to the calling of Christ’s work, are struggling to eat or pay bills just like their impoverished congregants.

“We can’t dance in front of the pulpit and hide our poverty. I don’t feel bad for leaving my congregation,” said Tinaye Tangwena, 45, a former evangelical pastor who served congregations for 15 years in Zimbabwe. He now lives in Watford, England, 7,600 miles away from his home in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a former colony of the UK, where there is strong demand for care workers, ambulance drivers, social workers, doctors and nurses partly due to the UK leaving the European Union and the staff burnout in England hospitals over the last two years. In Zimbabwe, where electricity is short, salaries for civil servants can be as low as $100 a month and emergency medication in public hospitals is usually absent.

Seeing their congregations flee poverty, pastors also are immigrating, dumping the pulpit for nursing home care work in England.

Thus, dire poverty and the lure of a better life are driving thousands of Zimbabwe’s nurses and care workers to decamp to the UK. Seeing their congregations flee poverty, pastors also are immigrating, dumping the pulpit for nursing home care work in England.

“I’m not shy to quit being a pastor, immigrate and become an elderly care worker in the UK,” said Silas Gatsheni, a Baptist pastor from Zimbabwe who has just arrived to work in a nursing home in Liverpool. “I know 10 Zimbabwe pastors who have arrived here in England to become care home workers in 2022. As the Bible says, it’s an exodus.”

Baptist News Global has reported in the past on escalating emigration from Zimbabwe as difficulties mount in the country. Average salaries for care workers in the UK generally come to $28,000 a year. This is a fortune for Zimbabwe emigres like Gatsheni. So, despite having a relatively small population of 15 million people, Zimbabwe has become one of the top five countries of origin whose nationals are getting work visas to the UK.

“Ministering, leading Christ’s followers as a pastor must not become financial slavery,” said Dana Sakadzo, a Pentecostal pastor in the UK who also left behind 10 years of ministry and his congregation to become a janitor in a nursing home in Glasgow, Scotland.

Sakadzo breaks down the math of survival. Pastors in many Zimbabwe churches don’t get formal salaries; they get by on congregations’ generosity and tithes because in Zimbabwe there’s a societal attitude that being a pastor is a “calling” and not a salaried profession. For a few pastors who get formal salaries in elite churches in cities, wages are as pitiful as $300 a month. In the rural areas, pastors live in even more precarious situations and are paid not in cash but by gifts such as live chickens.

“I used to care for people’s spiritual needs in Zimbabwe, now I care for their health in the UK.”

“Back in Zimbabwe, we couldn’t make proper breakfast or pay electricity on a pastor’s salaries or tithes,” said Sakadzo, who trained as a nurse in Zimbabwe before quitting to become a pastor in the early 2000s. “I used to care for people’s spiritual needs in Zimbabwe, now I care for their health in the UK.”

In Zimbabwe, most pastors already held professional qualifications such as mechanics, nursing and teacher diplomas well before they became pastors, said Dean Moloi, a trained nurse, who served as a pastor in Zimbabwe 10 years. “It’s terrible back home, and the congregation would go for three months without paying me a salary.”

He reverted to his midwife qualifications and has now found work in Leicester, England, at a public hospital.

But some of these pastors believe they haven’t left the ministry. In addition to serving the medical and social needs of clients, they have opportunities to start churches.

“I don’t see pastors’ immigration as a complete loss to Zimbabwe. Here in the UK, we get a chance to open new congregations and serve the Zimbabwe diaspora,” said Gatsheni, who works in a nursing home.

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