‘Quarantine’ politics to win Covid-19 fight — WHO

The Herald

Elliot Ziwira

Senior Reporter

WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and African Union (AU) Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday called upon the world to “quarantine” politics, including lifting sanctions on countries like Zimbabwe, to win the war against Covid-19.

Speaking during the virtual meeting of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), in an Extraordinary Inter-Sessional Summit of Heads of State and Government, Dr Ghebreyesus said solidarity is crucial to win the battle against the global contagion that has killed more than 370 000 people worldwide and infected over 6 million.

President Mnangagwa was one of  the leaders who attended the virtual summit, chaired by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is OACPS President-in-Office.

Other leaders who participated in the conference were ARICOM chair and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, Pacific Forum chair and Tuvalu Premier Kausea Natano, OACPS Secretary-General Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Angolan President Joao Lourenco, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, Gambia President Adama Barrow, Fiji Premier Frank Bainimarama, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, President of the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) Sassou Nguesso, President of Seychelles Danny Faure, President of Guinea Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo, Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Rwandan President Paul Kagame who was a special guest.

While other countries have received succour, in the form of aid from international lenders, Zimbabwe, which is under illegal sanctions from Western nations, has largely been overlooked and is singly bearing the full weight of tackling Covid-19.

Addressing the meeting President Ramaphosa reiterated his call for the unconditional removal of illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Highlighting the essence of cooperation and solidarity among OACPS members, President Ramaphosa said nations of the world are profoundly interconnected, thus they can only do more if they work together.

In such a world, where all countries should be common-minded through multilateralism, President Ramaphosa said the illegal embargoes on Zimbabwe and Sudan should be lifted so that the two nations could efficiently combat Covid-19.

“We believe that no country must be left behind. In this regard, we call for economic sanctions against Sudan and Zimbabwe to be lifted to provide the necessary space for these countries to devote their resources to the fight against Covid-19,” President Ramaphosa said.

“This is a global public health emergency and it needs a global response. We, therefore, need to promote multilateralism as the most effective instrument to ensure that all countries, big and small, rich and poor, are accommodated and their voices heard.”

The AU chairman’s call amplifies other internal and external voices that have been calling for the removal of the illegal sanctions that have stymied the country’s social and economic development.

On Africa’s preparedness, prevention and response, President Ramaphosa said notwithstanding that African countries have acted decisively in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has kept numbers of infections on the continent lower as compared to global trends, the worst was yet to come.

“Although the number of infections in Africa is currently lower than elsewhere in the world, there is an expectation that the worst is still to come, with dire social and economic consequences. The outbreak of the virus has caused a great deal of damage to economies on the continent and is beginning to stretch public health systems.”

Speaking at the same platform Dr Ghebreyesus said unlike smallpox that was defeated through solidarity during the Cold War, Covid-19 has divided the world which could lead to a devastating impact.

Themed “Transcending the Covid-19 Pandemic: Building Resilience through Global Solidarity”, the summit was aimed at assessing the prevailing Covid-19 global situation, particularly the need for OACPS members to identify prospects for universal solidarity and action.

President Kagame also called for closer cooperation and interdependence in the response to Covid-19 pandemic.

“The effects of Covid-19 will persist long after the virus has been defeated and the road to recovery will be long. Increased cooperation and mutual interdependence will be the hallmark of effective international response,” said President Kagame.

Like most African countries Zimbabwe has implemented a series of preventive measures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and is currently observing a national lockdown to minimise movement of people.

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