Claims that Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa said the country is ready for coronavirus after the construction of a new mortuary have been making the rounds online for some time now.
President Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe is ready for Coronavirus as they have built a new Mortuary pic.twitter.com/87OQq7SP6o
— Sbusiso Masango (@Sbu45Masa) March 16, 2020
— Musa Blake (@Musa_Blackey) March 16, 2020
An article published on March 16, 2020, with the headline ‘President Mnangagwa Says Zimbabwe Is Ready For Coronavirus As They Have Built A New Mortuary’ is the likely source of this claim.
The COVID-19 pandemic is currently affecting 201 countries and territories. This has forced some countries to shut borders and impose hefty measures to curb the spread of the virus.
As of 29th March, the country whose health system is already in crisis, had seven people infected by the virus and one death, that of a 30-year-old broadcaster, Zororo Makamba (check out the latest numbers here).
The country is now on lockdown.
President Mnangagwa declared the 21-day lockdown from 30th March, curtailing movement within the country and suspending all flights to and from Zimbabwe. Most shops also remain closed.
President Mnangagwa did talk about a state of the art mortuary he had constructed in Kwekwe when he was still a member of parliament. This was during the opening of another mortuary in Gutu, Masvingo province. He boasted about it during his speech and cracked a joke about how he had offered a reward to the first family that would put their relative there before burial.
After facing backlash from the public, the Permanent Secretary for Information, Nick Mangwana, dismissed the President’s statement as ‘dark humour’ via this tweet.
Opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, was quick to slam the President’s bizarre ‘dark humour’ on mortuaries and the dead, saying it shows that he is out of touch with reality.
There was no mention of COVID-19 in this particular context by the president and the article with the misleading headline also doesn’t mention the virus anywhere.
This claim has emanated from a joke President Mnangagwa made during the opening of a mortuary, that had nothing to do with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, making it FALSE.