By Everson Mushava
The ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was last night forced to issue a statement to rebut utterances purportedly made by Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri in which she revealed that Zimbabwe was developing a vaccine with the help of the Chinese, but at the same time blaming the Asian giant for causing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Muchinguri was recorded by the United Kingdom-based online news organisation, ZimEye, following the death on Friday of Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister, Ellen Gwaradzimba from Covid-19.
The Defence minister never sought to establish whom she was talking to, but bared her soul when Simba Chikanza, from ZimEye, consoled her over the death of Gwaradzimba.
She accuses the Chinese of creating the virus through experiments and then failing to control the outcome.
“The disease is on a fresh peak now. Cases are rising again. They (Chinese) are the ones who started their experiments and things got out of hand and now their experiments are costing us,” says the voice in the recording.
“They cannot control this now. They have cost us, those whom we call our all-weather friends. Look at what they have done to us. We have to be strong. Indeed we have to be strong.”
Efforts to get Muchinguri to confirm contents of the recording were fruitless as her mobile phone was not reachable.
But the Foreign Affairs ministry last night issued a statement, saying the sentiments expressed in the recording did not reflect the position of the governments of Zimbabwe and China.
A spokesperson for the ministry, Constance Chemwayi, said Zimbabwe and China enjoy excellent relations.
“The government does not hold the Chinese government responsible for the emergence and spread of the coronavirus that has affected every global citizen,” Chemwayi said.
“Government appreciates that China has exercised global leadership in efforts to find both the cause and a solution to the pandemic.”
In the recording, a distraught Muchinguri says everything had been done to try and save Gwaradzimba’s life, but all was in vain.
“We tried everything to save her (Gwaradzimba’s) life. We really tried to help her get better. The Lord has scorned us, we tried everything….the children. What about the children? They have ‘killed’ me. (Ellen’s death) has destroyed me. This has destroyed me. I am in pain, so much pain . . .”
Muchinguri declares she will not take a Covid-19 vaccine originating from outside the country.
“There is no vaccine yet in the country. I will never take the vaccine unless it is developed by our own people, Zimbabweans. Why can’t we also develop our own vaccine? Why should we take that which is developed by others? Why can’t we also make our own vaccine?” she queries.
“We are trying our own, we are also trying our own, that which we are developing with the help of the Chinese maybe it will be successful, maybe it will be successful. I do not know.”
In the recording, the person believed to be Muchinguri also dispels rumours that she is sick from Covid-19. She says she was, however, aware that Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba and acting Zanu PF spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa were the ones down with the disease.
Muchinguri last year made controversial statements that Covid-19 was a punishment for the West for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.