Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Correspondent
BULAWAYO Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube has taken a swipe at shebeen operators, patrons and other Covid-19 lockdown violators for endangering the lives of others and frustrating efforts by city health officials in containing the pandemic.

This comes after police raised concern over liquor-related lockdown violations in the country especially in Bulawayo and Harare.

Bulawayo has so far recorded 1 111 Covid-19 cases, with more than 90 percent of them being local transmissions.

The first Covid-19 death was reported in the city on April 4 and the city has to date recorded 23 deaths.

Minister Ncube commended Bulawayo residents on their sense of responsibility, which she said led to the control of the pandemic in the city, but lamented what she termed as bad apples who failed to abide by Covid-19 regulations.

“I commend the people of Bulawayo who are continuously reporting on illegal returnees coming in from places such as South Africa and Botswana. This helps in disease control and it’s for public good. We however, have a headache of shebeens and public drinking and house parties in the city. This has been raised during previous Provincial Task Force meetings. It is very disappointing that some people are throwing parties while others are still running shebeens which are illegal by the way. Ignorance will kill us first,” said the Minister.

“If you go to town, or just do rounds around the suburbs, you will be shocked to see that some people just do not seem to care about what is happening. Some are not wearing masks; some are just drinking in public in groups. This does not only put them in danger, but their families and communities too. Headlines are screaming daily about new deaths and cases reported, yet we have people exhibiting such behaviour.”

Minister Ncube said the province, through the taskforce and other partners, was intensifying efforts to create more awareness on the implications of failing to adhere to Covid-19 regulations as some people had shown signs of Covid-19.

She said police were also instrumental in protecting people from delinquents who did not care about public health and about laws put in to protect them.

Minister Ncube commended the Covid-19 response in the city boosted by public private partnerships in the fight against the virus.

A number of initiatives from the corporate sector, churches, civil society and individuals have joined forces in fighting the pandemic and in resource mobilisation in the city.

“Yes, we are still in crisis, we do not know when Covid-19 will go. We may be stuck with it for many more weeks or months to come. But I feel so encouraged by the spirit that the people of Bulawayo have had for the past five months or so. The people, and the business community have been very consistent. The support has been overwhelming,” said Minister Ncube.

She said the corporate sector in the city had been instrumental in ensuring that while Covid-19 was wreaking havoc, vulnerable communities still got essential supplies.

“We continue to receive donations in the form of groceries and medical supplies for our hospitals, our homes and for our quarantine centres. If it was not for the business community here in Bulawayo, I do not know where we would be as a province. How would we be feeding these people,” she said.

The minister commended Zimbabweans in the diaspora for continued support of Bulawayo projects and said a lot of donations had come in for hospitals such as Thorngrove and Ekusileni for Covid-19 preparedness.

Most of the donations were food, groceries, cleaning materials and personal protective equipment.

“The resource mobilisation is by groups and formations such as I am for Bulawayo fighting Covid-19. The diasporan sector is coming in, they are away from us but they are with us in this fight. It is really encouraging.

“I want to single out the Bulawayo City Council health services department for the splendid work done especially at the beginning of this fight. They have also been generous with skills and have been sharing with teams, which is the spirit of Bulawayo. The private sector has been complementing Government and municipal efforts,” said Minister Ncube.

She added that the health sector was Government’s top priority and said efforts were underway to bring nurses back to hospitals, as they have been on strike since June.

“I was just talking to (Professor Solwayo) Ngwenya at Mpilo to get an update on the hospital situation and how it is managing with all that is going on. I must say I must commend his administration. “Feedback from the people says he is approachable and the hospital is a better place, despite the many hurdles that still have to be crossed. It is painful to go to a hospital to find that there is no nurse or doctor to attend to you. Let us commend professionals who are taking it upon themselves to dialogue with staff and ensure that people get services, even in the middle of a crisis. Government is working on it,” said the minister.

She called for more donations in test kits and personal protective clothing. — @andile_tshuma