Zimbabwe witnesses triple burial of senior officials who succumbed to COVID-19


Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga on Wednesday officiated the historic triple burial of three senior officials who succumbed to COVID-19 last week.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo, Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza and former prisons chief Paradzai Zimondi were laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in the capital Harare.

Moyo, 61, died last Wednesday, while Matiza and Zimondi both died on Friday.

The three were veterans of the liberation struggle who fought for Zimbabwe’s independence against British colonial rule in the 1970s.

Their burial follows the double burial last week of Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Ellen Gwaradzimba and veteran nationalist Morton Malianga who also succumbed to COVID-19 related complications.

Four Zimbabwean cabinet ministers have died of the virus, highlighting a resurgence of the contagious disease in the southern African country.

The burial ceremony was conducted under strict World Health Organization safety guidelines, with all attendees required to be tested for COVID-19.

Speaking while officiating at the burial of the three national heroes, Chiwenga, who is also Zimbabwe’s health minister, said like all countries in the global community, Zimbabwe is grappling with the pandemic.

“The country has witnessed in the past three or so weeks a surge in the COVID-19 variant which has claimed the lives of many of our citizenry, including the lives of three national heroes we are laying to rest today at this national shrine,” he said.

“One would expect that when tragedy strikes, it would gradually abate, this has not been the case with the COVID-19 pandemic as it is still fiercely with us, and only God knows the day that it will end,” he said.

Chiwenga said the government was in the process of securing COVID-19 vaccines for the country, as it intensifies the fight against the pandemic.

Zimbabwe has seen a spike in COVID-19 infections and fatalities since the start of the year.

The southern African country has reported 32,004 COVID-19 cases to date, including 1,103 deaths.

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