Mankind is at a crossroads-facing an unprecedented sink-or-swim proposition that poses an apocalyptic threat to its very existence. The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has unleashed untold mayhem onto the global systems, paralyzing the sinews of our social, economic and cultural templates at both national and international levels.
As viruses know no boundaries, it will require concerted and resolute collective effort to combat this scourge. To this end, the world needs sober and sombre leadership to formulate appropriate winning strategies that will guide the world away from the brink of an unmitigated disaster. Instead of arid and incendiary rhetoric, men and women of goodwill should expend their collective energies on saving mankind and the current global civilizational architecture from this cataclysmic pandemic.
In this regard, the unanimous adoption of a resolution on the coronavirus by the United Nations General Assembly on 2 April 2020 is indeed welcome. The resolution, sponsored by 188 nations including Zimbabwe, titled “Global solidarity to fight the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” benchmarks the global response to the spread of this pestilence.
The resolution, amongst other things, recognizes the “unprecedented effects of the pandemic, including the severe disruption to societies and economies, as well as to global travel and commerce, and the devastating impact on the livelihood of people”.
The resolution passed by a silence procedure due to the prevailing extraordinary circumstances, further called for “intensified international co-operation to contain, mitigate and defeat the pandemic including by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and best practices and by applying the relevant guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.”
Mindful of the unsavoury experiences of Africans in the recent past in the discourse pertaining to HIV-AIDS, EBOLA and ZIKA viruses, the UN General Assembly cautioned the world against “any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic”. As Africans, we are acutely aware of purveyors of toxic and bigoted agendas who seek to politicize or racialise human suffering with inflammatory narratives.
In tandem with the United Nations’ efforts, the African Union has taken urgent and resolute steps to grapple with the pandemic. On 3 April 2020, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, who is also the current Chairperson of the African Union, convened a teleconference meeting of the African Union Bureau of Heads of State and Government to discuss the African response to the pandemic. His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa of the Republic of Zimbabwe, also participated in this historic exchange of perspectives on this topical issue.
The African Union teleconference meeting, amongst other things, highlighted the awesome threat that COVID-19 presents to Africa’s socio-economic framework and developmental imperatives. Of special significance to Zimbabwe, is that the Heads of State and Government also called for the “immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan to allow them to adequately” address the myriad challenges emanating from the pandemic.
At the national level, Zimbabwe has taken swift and strident action to curb the spread of the pandemic. With 9 confirmed cases of infections and one death as of 6 April, 2020, Zimbabwe has not been lulled into misguided complacency. At the behest of His Excellency President E.D Munangagwa, the country has been under a 21-day lockdown since 30 March, 2020. This anticipatory posture taken by the government is meant to mitigate the impact of the pandemic at the national level. It is early days yet, but the compliance rate to date with the stringent lockdown measures has been encouraging and augurs well for the national efforts to avoid a calamity.
In this world marked by multifaceted interdependence, no country can afford to anaesthetize itself from the repercussive effects of this monstrosity. It is therefore in this context, that the Government and people of India are commended for their resilience and unflinching commitment to the multi-pronged efforts to combat this global challenge. Indeed, together we will prevail, as aptly captured by this African proverb that succinctly says; “However long the night, dawn will always break”.