Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Dies of Coronavirus

FILE — In this Jan, 12, 2020 file photo, Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo in Harare, Zimbabwe. Sibusiso Moyo, who gained prominence in 2017 as the military general who announced the coup against then-president Robert Mugabe on television, has died from COVID-19, the government announced Wednesday, Jan 20,2021. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi …
AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/File

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Sibusiso Moyo, died on Wednesday after he “succumbed” to the Chinese coronavirus, the Zimbabwean government announced.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office confirmed Moyo’s death in a statement released January 20. Moyo died early Wednesday morning at a hospital in the national capital, Harare, after being admitted to the facility to treat symptoms of the Chinese coronavirus, the statement said.

“The nation will be kept apprised of further developments regarding this untimely demise of our late minister, himself a decorated soldier and freedom fighter,” the president’s office added.

While serving as a Zimbabwean army general, Moyo announced the 2017 intra-party coup that ousted longtime Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party replaced Mugabe with his former vice president and fellow Zanu-PF member Emerson Mnangagwa.

Moyo, 61, was reportedly receiving weekly treatment for an unspecified kidney ailment at the time of his death. He is the third Zimbabwean government minister to die from the Chinese coronavirus within the past six months. Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Ellen Gwaradzimba died from coronavirus on January 15, while Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri died from the same virus on July 29.

Zimbabwe’s socialist government has struggled to contain the spread of coronavirus across the country during the ongoing pandemic. The Zimbabwean health ministry on January 11 banned families from choosing where to bury their dead relatives if they died from the Chinese coronavirus. The ministry said it feared that a local cultural custom of burying deceased persons in their town of origin could lead to the spread of coronavirus across the country. Zimbabwe officially recorded 28,675 cases, 825 deaths, and 18,110 recoveries from the Chinese coronavirus as of January 19, the Daily Maverick, a newspaper based in neighboring South Africa, reported on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe is currently suffering from its worst economic crisis since its 2008-2009 hyperinflation calamity. A Harare resident told the Daily Maverick on January 20 that Zimbabwe’s failing economy has left citizens struggling to afford the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests used in the country to officially diagnose Chinese coronavirus cases.

“We can hardly afford a meal per day let alone US$60 for PCR tests. Most people are dying without being tested for Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus], so the figures that are being released by the government may not reflect the correct situation on the ground,” Philani Sibanda said.

Doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have warned for months that they lack basic medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to treat coronavirus patients.

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