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Zimbabwe Treasury in coronavirus scare

by Staff reporter
27 Mar 2020 at 07:52hrs | Views
Top directors in the Ministry of Finance have gone into self-isolation after getting into contact with the late Zororo Makamba who passed on this week due to coronavirus.

Makamba succumbed to the respiratory ailment on Monday.

Information obtained by Business Times shows that top Treasury officials working at home include Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga, directors and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube's personal and executive assistants.

A well-placed source close to developments told Business Times that only critical departments responsible for payments were reporting for duty while the majority of staff is working at home.

"Only staff from the Accountant General's Office responsible for payments is reporting for duty at the moment.

Most top officials at the Ministry have since started operating from home following their recent interaction with the now deceased," said the source.

Guvamatanga could not be reached for a comment.

Information also says Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) stationed at Munhumutapa Offices in Harare has been deserted amid revelations that some officials there had an interaction with Makamba the same week.

A host of officials at OPC have since put themselves on isolation while their tests are being conducted.

Deputy Chief Secretary in charge of Presidential Communications George Charamba said the situation is not as bad as it sounds.

"I am at work, and I have been tweeting from my office. People are spreading lies and you guys should help sift the truth from lies.

It's not as bad as it sounds," Charamba said.

During yesterday's Politburo meeting which was attended by 43 members due to Covid-19 prevention measures, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said all government departments will be manned by a third of the workforce effective this Friday.

Mnangagwa also urged businesses to decongest their workplaces to limit further spreading of the virus.

Mnangagwa this week conducted a Cabinet meeting in an open space under a tent at State House -– moving away from the traditional Cabinet boardroom at Munhumutapa.

The Zanu PF Central Committee meeting which was also scheduled for this week has since been postponed until further notice.

Business Times is also informed that other government departments have since minimised human interaction among staff members as plans gather pace to curb new infections.

Makamba, who was 30 at the time of his death, is the son of James Makamba, a prominent businessman and senior member of Zimbabwe's ruling party Zanu-PF.

Makamba is believed to have contracted the virus following a visit to New York early this month, where he came back with "a slight flu and a cold".

New York has been identified in the last week as the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States with nearly 26,000 cases and over 200 deaths.

Zimbabwe has confirmed three Covid-19 cases to date, according to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare while neighbour South Africa has to date recorded about 700 confirmed cases.

As the fight against Covid 19 intensifies, government this week received a consignment of 20,000 laboratory diagnostic test kits; 100,000 medical face masks and 1,000 protective suits and face shields which is part of a donation by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma through Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation's donation to Africa.

Government has also closed all borders except for returning citizens and cargo in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Public gatherings have since been reduced to 50 people while beer halls and nightclubs have been closed.

President Mnangagwa also set up a ministerial taskforce as government stepped up its efforts.

Critics however say socioeconomic challenges such as shortages of basic commodities such mealie meal and erratic fuel supplies, which have made social distancing difficult to adhere to, would make Zimbabwe's fight against the pandemic ineffective.

Source - businesstimes