Amid a deepening economic crisis, Zimbabwe’s healthcare system is in shambles as coronavirus patients mount.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sibusiso Moyo has died from COVID-19, the government announced on Wednesday.
He gained prominence in 2017 as the military general who announced the coup against then-President Robert Mugabe on television.
Moyo, 61, previously little known to the public, became the face of the coup when he announced the military had placed Mugabe under house arrest as armoured vehicles rolled into the capital, Harare.
The coup ended Mugabe’s 37-year rule in Zimbabwe. Mugabe died in September 2019.
Moyo was appointed foreign affairs minister after President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power with military backing.
He “succumbed to COVID-19 at a local hospital” on Wednesday, Mnangagwa’s spokesman, George Charamba, said in a statement.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a resurgence of the disease, with record numbers of daily confirmed cases and deaths.
Mnangagwa on Thursday is set to bury another Cabinet minister, Ellen Gwaradzimba, who died from COVID-19 last week.
Opposition spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere said she tested positive for COVID-19 after being released from prison.
She was freed on Monday after seven days in detention.
Jailed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and other inmates have previously raised concerns over the crowded prison conditions, which they said encourages COVID-19 transmission among inmates and prison guards.
Harare’s mayor and opposition official, Jacob Mafume, released from prison this week after a month in detention, is in isolation after his lawyers said three of his cellmates had died from COVID-19.
Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, initially recorded low numbers of COVID-19 but has recently experienced a spike in cases.
There are fears a new, more infectious variant of the virus arrived from South Africa when thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa returned home for the holiday season.
The government said it is in the process of conducting genetic sequencing to confirm the presence of the variant.
Zimbabwe, which once boasted a robust public health system, has recorded 28,675 cases and 825 deaths, according to government figures.
The Southern African country has not yet received any vaccines.
The government has said it expects to get some vaccines through the World Health Organization-led COVAX initiative, but it does not have a firm date on when they will be delivered.