Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affair, Ziyambi Ziyambi is currently battling for his life in the ICU of a Harare hospital amid a Covid-19 explosion that has paralysed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet.
This comes as the country is still to come to terms with the demise of three Cabinet ministers – two deaths being recorded inside a week.
Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza died aged 61, on January 22, two days after Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo, 61, succumbed to Covid-19 early on Wednesday.
Covid-19, this month, also claimed the lives of Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Ellen Gwaradzimba and military commander, Brigadier-General Collin Moyo (Retired), who were buried at the national shrine.
Former Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri died last year due Covid-19 related complications.
Inside sources told Zim Morning Post that Ziyambi had been hospitalised after catching the respiratory infection.
“These ministers held private parties over the festive season with family and friends – some were carrying the South African variant. Having been infected, they went on to interact with colleagues oblivious of the impending implosion,” a government insider who requested anonymity said.
We are at the peak of 28-day window period since Christmas. Naturally, the people whom they came into contact with including ministers are not only shocked but are living in fear.”
As at 22 January 2021, Zimbabwe had 30 523 confirmed cases, including 21 080 recoveries and 962 deaths.
Zimbabwe’s casualties in Cabinet, which have not only cost precious life but have derailed set deliverable in ministries, leave President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s with a excruciating headache of how to move forward.
The departed cabinet ministers in question are Perrance Shiri (Agriculture), Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs) and Joel Biggie Matiza (Transport), were some of Mnangagwa’s work horses, in a cabinet that has a significant number of ministers who have proved to be deadwood.
“This is a major blow for Mnangagwa, he lost three of his best men who were sharp and hardworking. Replacing them will be hard for him from the current crop of House of Assembly members at his disposal. The options become even more limited if he considers the political matrix of which MPs are for him and which are against him,” said a South African based political science scholar who preferred anonymity.
When Shiri traded his military cap for political gloves upon his appointment as Agriculture minister, he proved that he was a hands on politician who was exemplary even at his own farm in Marondera.
His mission was, however, cut short by the coronavirus and his replacement Anxious Masuka is still making an attempt to ensure smooth continuity to fulfil his mandate.
He was seized with massive corruption cases surrounding distribution of Command Agriculture inputs.
“Unlike Shiri, his replacement lacks the hands on approach and has failed to set up control mechanisms to plug abuse of inputs. On Pfumvudza there has been inadequate education and Information dissemination extended to farmers. He is lucky that God blessed us with heavy rains and a bumper harvest will save his face,” said a political analyst who refused to be named.
In SB Moyo, Mnangagwa will face a Herculean task in finding a perfect replacement.
The late diplomat and soldier’s mandate was to engage and re-engage with existing and previously hostile nations.
He embarked on a whirlwind tour across the globe selling brand Zimbabwe.
As a result, he was bestowed with another responsibility, that of International Trade which he executed with great finesse.
“Look here, when Mnangagwa added the International Trade responsibility to Moyo’s portfolio, he knew very well his capabilities with these guys having worked together at the business and enterprise Unit of the ruling party. SB Moyo was the managing director of one of the party linked company that invested in DRC. So knew the world markets and the bible of International trade,” added the analyst.
In the previous dispensation, the portfolio was carried by self exiled Walter Mzembi, who besides his factional affiliation, by and large set a base that the late Moyo adapted and well executed.
His replacement will cause a headache for Mnangagwa and will force him to probably appoint one of the young turks in his next cabinet reshuffle with Kazembe Kazembe touted as the favourite.
The late Matiza was an engineer by profession and technocrat who used his knowledge to champion developmental issues in his ministry and Mashonaland East province that he chaired in the ruling party structures.
Recently, just before the National lockdown, he embarked on a tour where he visited new road construction sites to check on progress (or lack thereof).
He inherited a ministry that was in a mess following a corruption ridden tenure by Nicholas Goche who allegedly participated in bringing the National airliner Air Zimbabwe to its knees.
Matiza made a frantic effort to sanitise the mess and his effort saw Air Zimbabwe taking delivery of two planes bought in Malaysia.
The coronavirus pandemic also claimed the life of Manicaland Provincial minister Ellen Gwaradzimba last week.
This week, a dark cloud hung over the nation as Former Education minister Aeneous Chigwedere also died from Covid 19 related complications and was shockingly declared a liberation war hero.
On Friday evening, former Zimbabwe Prisons Services boss Paradzai Zimondi succumbed to the same pandemic after testing positive a fortnight ago along with Colonel Matemachani who is reported to be on recovery path.
Another prominent businessman and politican Christopher Chigumba also died on the same day.
Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said government was doing everything in its capacity to contain the pandemic and urged citizens to adhere to World Health Organisation and Ministry of Health and Childcare guidelines and protocols.