Some self-exiled former cabinet ministers have called for the immediate resignation from government of Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri after her weekend spat in which she accused China for creating the deadly Covid-19 virus and failing to contain it.
Following the death of her colleague Ellen Gwaradzimba last Friday from Covid-19, Muchinguri told a journalist, the Chinese were responsible for that pandemic that has seen millions of deaths and infections across the globe.
At the time of her death Gwaradzimba, who has since been declared a national heroine, was the Manicaland provincial minister. She is expected to be buried this week at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
“The disease is now on a fresh peak now. Cases are rising again. They (Chinese) are the ones who started their experiments and things got out of hand and now their experiments are costing us,” Muchinguri is heard saying in an audio interview.
The first human cases of Covid-19 were reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, at the end of 2019.
“They cannot control this now. They have costed us. Those whom we call our all-weather friends, look at what they have done to us,” she added.
However, some former Zanu PF senior officials, who were part of the G40 faction, before they were expelled from the ruling party in 2017, have demanded that Muchinguri should immediately resign as Defence Minister.
Former Higher Education Minister Godfrey Gandawa, who is now in self-exile in South Africa, said Muchinguri was either ignorant or incompetent before demanding that she should resign over “mindless behaviour”.
“How could a Defence Minister be so easily deceived? If Oppah could be manipulated with such ease, one wonders how she ended up in a position where she is in charge of national security. Unlikely to be merit,” he said.
“Oppah should not be taken seriously and really has no business being in government. It cannot be the case that a government minister says coronavirus is a curse from God and then changes to claim it was accidentally made in a Chinese lab.
“In normal countries where leaders are held up to a standard, Oppah would have tendered her resignation in shame.”
Another G40 member and former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, who is also in self-exile in South Africa described his erstwhile colleagues in Zanu PF as “fake mourners”.
“The chief mourners of any funeral is Zanu PF. They have been mourning and burying us for 41 years, serious dramatists at funerals but they do not mean a thing of what they say at those funerals,” said Mzembi.
However, former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairperson, Temba Mliswa who is now an independent MP came to Muchinguri’s defence, saying the minister should not be roasted for her comments as she was in mourning.
Mliswa also took offence after the Foreign Ministry issued a statement dismissing Muchinguri’s comments as not the government’s position.
“Going public with a statement premised against someone grieving was both unnecessary and irrational. It further exposes the infighting in the party (Zanu PF),” he said.
Muchinguri doubles as the Zanu PF national chairperson.
“Here is someone who is in pain and mourning and in that moment emotionally, the person is in a mess. These are scenarios where former President Robert Mugabe would use quiet diplomacy. Hon. Muchinguri is a dedicated cadre for whom it’s unfortunate to be exposed to such unfair moves.
“The Foreign Affairs Statement on Hon. Muchinguri is a low- blow that does not pay cognisance to the context in which she expressed herself.”