By Zimbabwe Voice reporters
MINISTER of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa insists there was nothing wrong in her 60th birthday bash where top Government bureaucrats openly hugged each other with not even a face mask in sight, adding that other events being hosted across the country have up to 400 guests in attendance.
Zimbabwe is still under a national lockdown imposed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in March this year to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Public gatherings have also been curtailed and there has been more calls for caution of late from Health Ministry officials amid a second wave of the pandemic.
She told the NewsDay that the attendees to her party, who included ministers Joel Biggie Matiza, Ziyambi Ziyambi and Kazembe Kazembe as well as information secretary Nick Ndavaningi Mangwana, observed all required protocols.
“So, my family cannot host a birthday party for me?” she asked rhetorically. “I have attended several events in the last week alone.
“I was in Nyanga, and there were more than 200 guests there. On Friday evening, I was at the Rainbow Towers and there were more than 400 guests there for the awards for Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, and then my family surprises me with a party with 50 guests comprising of my best friends and then it is a problem?” Mutsvangwa said.
“Everything, and all measures were considered, COVID-19 tests were conducted, and the venue was enclosed. There was a disinfectant booth for all people coming in and isn’t it that there are people who just love to talk, who see everything as wrong?”
In photos shared on social media by information Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Nick Mangwana, neither Mutsvangwa nor Mangwana himself had a face mask on. Also shown in the images is Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza. He, too, had no mask on.
Mutsvangwa, accompanied by her husband, Christopher who is also war veterans leader, as well as other close family members while notable business people were also present at the party.
“I enjoyed the party and I am still enjoying that party and really don’t have anything to say. It was memorable, I am very happy that my children went out of their way to make their mother happy and I am very grateful.
“It was a surprise party and really, I don’t know where the problem is. It is one or two people that have a problem with it and if they are hurt with me, they should just say it,” she said.
Mangwana defended the party saying the attendees were tested before ahead of their attendance and that all of the participants tested negative.
“Today we are celebrating Hon Minister Monica Mutsvangwa’s 60th Birthday. She certainly looks younger than a sexagenarian. Happy 60th Hon Minister,” Mangwana wrote on Twitter.
Mangwana further defended the hosting of the party saying the attendance stayed within the maximum limit of 50. However, the glaring absence of any social distancing as well as non-wearing of face masks rubbed many Zimbabweans the wrong way
Former Zanu-PF propagandist Professor Jonathan Moyo blasted Government for employing an “Animal Farm” approach to the pandemic where top bigwigs were allowed to break lockdown restrictions with reckless abandon.
“So you have no qualms about parading this Covid-19 superspreader birthday party by the government spokesperson? Your government’s corrupt Covid-19 restrictions only apply to the opposition!” Jonathan Moyo said.
Under fire, Mangwana defended the attendees to the glamorous birthday bash for throwing all caution to the wind.
“We were all tested for Covid-19 before the party. We were all negative,” Mangwana said.
When reminded that a negative result was not a permanent state of affairs and everyone had to mask up, moreso public officials, Mangwana dug in further.
“Whilst (a negative result is) not permanent but if everyone is PCR tested 15 minutes before entering and only negative people are entering then scientifically there is no virus in all your systems to transmit. Simple,” Mangwana retorted.
Several Zimbabweans were unimpressed by the defensive responses given by Mangwana, with many feeling he was trying to spin a serious public health issue.
The previous week, Mangwana had maintained that churches are limited to 100 people while parties remain prohibited.
The police on Saturday forced the Bulawayo Arts Awards ceremony to shut down for “violating COVID-19 measures.”
According to the latest update from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, as at 30 November 2020, Zimbabwe had 10 034 confirmed cases, including 8 489 recoveries and 277 deaths. – Zimbabwe Voice / Agencies ■