Mashonaland West Senator, Joseph Chirongoma, has expressed concern over funeral gatherings in rural areas that continue to exceed the stipulated number of 50 at a time when Covid-19 cases are on the increase in the country.
Zimbabwe has to date recorded 2879 Covid-19 positive cases while 41 people across the country have since succumbed to the deadly pandemic.
“In the communal lands, at funerals more than 50 people are gathering,” bemoaned Chirongoma in Parliament last Thursday.
“People are not behaving well. What is the Ministry [of Health and Child Care] doing to ensure that numbers are maintained at a minimum in line with Covid regulations? We say that the evil that man does always lives after him.”
He added: “Honourable Minister (Amon Murwira), what measures are you going to take so as to ensure that the numbers in gatherings decrease? Furthermore, in terms of our African culture, once one dies he spends the night lying in state in their home and they are buried the following morning. How best can we deal with this problem?”
In his response, acting Health and Child Care Minister, Amon Murwira, said the government came up with laws and regulations to help in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“Among these laws is that there should not be any gatherings,” said Murwira.
“We should have small gatherings, wear masks, sanitise and wash our hands and so on. Zimbabwean citizens should know that there is no law that the minister or any police officer can come with and cause you to wear a mask. It is difficult.”
He added: “The point is: we shall take measures through information dissemination so that it is engraved in the minds of the people that these laws that have been enacted are there for the good of our own health. Therefore, it would be in our interest as individuals to take care of our own health so that the government cannot be on a manhunt for the people that are flouting these regulations or laws.”
Murwira said the Minister of Home Affairs, Kazembe Kazembe was on record as often saying that the police officer should not be there to give directions to how people should act.
“We would want to reiterate that this open question that has been asked will be answered in an open space to the people who are listening,” he said.
“We cannot go and force you to wear your mask or to cause you to wear your mask. You are not a child. As an individual, you should know that if you do not wear your mask you run the risk of dying. If you do not wash or sanitise your hands, you shall fall sick. So, I believe that such a plea would help us and furthermore say that you should not be involved in public gatherings.”
Murwira added: “We need to reinforce such messages because the traditional leaders or chiefs in their areas need to disseminate the information. It would not be good to have masks covering our faces because we were not born in that manner but it is for our good health.”