Muchinguri heckled over diplomat gaffe

Oppah Muchinguri

Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri was yesterday heckled in the National Assembly by opposition MPs, who shouted ‘coronavirus’ as she presented the Veterans of the Liberation Struggle Bill for a Second Reading.

The opposition legislators yesterday heckled her in Parliament over the remarks.

The Zanu-PF national chairperson made the utterances in Chinhoyi on Saturday while addressing members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association (ZILWACO).

The statement immediately sparked global outrage, with diplomats and political analysts describing it as a dark and insensitive joke meant to score cheap political scores against Donald Trump’s administration which has maintained a tough stance against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
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Muchinguri-Kashiri said the US, which has so far recorded 60 coronavirus deaths with 3 000 confirmed cases, was paying the heavy price for imposing sanctions
on Zimbabwe under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (2001).

“This coronavirus that has come are sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us,” Muchinguri said.

“God is now punishing them now and they are staying indoors now while their economy is screaming like what they did to ours by imposing sanctions on us. (US President Donald) Trump should know that he is not God. They (US) must face the consequences of coronavirus so that they also feel the pain.”
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She appeared to be celebrating the scourge that ironically originated from Wuhan, China, Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend and has spread like a veld fire, to affect over 130 countries with over 10 from Africa.

Muchinguri’s faux pas comes as Zimbabwe has entirely relied on benevolence from wealthy countries for its preparations to tackle the virus. The European Union last week released US$2,5 million and the Global Fund, US$25 million to strengthen Zimbabwe’s war chest against the killer coronavirus.

In the past, the country has also relied on donations to deal with humanitarian crisis such as Cyclone Idai that hit the eastern part of the country in March last year where President Emmerson Mnangagwa grovelled at Trump’s US$2,5 million aid.

“He (US ambassador to Zimbabwe) brought US$2,5 million. Two and a half million dollars! The real US dollars; their own money and not our RTGS$! Trump said if we still wanted some help, we can approach their South African office. Things change, to ask us what we want and this coming from Trump (pictured). This (the disaster) is a blessing in disguise,” Mnangagwa said back then.

Zimbabwe has not recorded its first confirmed case, but the effects on the economy have been visible, with several scheduled gatherings being cancelled.

Some Western diplomats who declined to be named yesterday warned that Muchinguri’s statement could derail the Zanu-PF government’s re-engagement efforts and mobilisation of humanitarian assistance. Several international news agencies carried the story.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said Muchinguri’s statement was very reckless.

“It is totally an irresponsible statement, we could have expected it from someone, not a grandmother holding such a big position. Coronavirus is affecting everyone, whether saints or sinners. It is indiscriminate. Zimbabwe can be affected as well. This was a poorly thought message, if it was thought through at all. The best she can do is to withdraw it,” Masungungure said.

Source – newsday