Zimbabwe’s government announced on Wednesday that police will enforce a nationwide ban on Christmas parties this holiday season to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking at a press conference to launch Zimbabwe’s “2020 Festive Season Awareness Campaign” on Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe warned: “We are not yet out of the Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] woes but the country is in the second wave of the virus. Parties will not be permissible during the festive season.”
The interior minister, quoted by the local newspaper New Zimbabwe, added, “However, weddings will be allowed but still with limited numbers. Police will be out in full force to enforce Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] regulations and to make sure that they are being followed.”
The newspaper noted that Kazembe’s announcement followed his conspicuous appearance at a “birthday bash” for Interior Minister Monica Mutsvangwa on November 28, which reportedly boasted dozens of guests in violation of the federal government’s ongoing coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings.
“Images of ministers and a host of other guests partying, hugging and merrymaking with her [Mutsvangwa] were shared by the information ministry’s secretary Nick Mangwana on Twitter,” New Zimbabwe reported on December 2.
Other Zimbabwean government ministers also attended the event, including Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza.
“That was obviously a very personal dinner, a small gathering where a few friends were just there for dinner,” Mutsvangwa claimed when asked about the birthday party by journalists at a press briefing on December 2.
“All controls were put in place including a walk-in booth for disinfecting. We are much concerned about reducing and containing the spread of this disease,” she added.
Images of the event shared on social media contradict the information minister’s statements, according to New Zimbabwe. The photos reveal “there was no social distancing at the party” and that none of the guests wore sanitary masks, which the Zimbabwean government currently requires people to wear during public gatherings.
“In one of the images, Mutsvangwa is seen hugging Mangwana, Kazembe and Ziyambi while tens of guests occupied the hall at an undisclosed location where she celebrated the birthday,” the newspaper noted.
Zimbabwe’s ruling socialist Zanu-PF party imposed stringent coronavirus restrictions on the country starting in March. Since then, police have arrested thousands of people across the country for coronavirus-related violations, including not wearing sanitary masks in public. Zimbabwean security forces arrested over 26,000 people from March-May for violating coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The southern African nation is reportedly experiencing a surge in new daily coronavirus cases after it recently reopened its schools and borders.
Zimbabwe has recorded “a cumulative total of 558 cases of COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] at learning institutions across the country since they reopened in September. This is an increase from 332 cases that were reported last week, out of a population of 4.5 million students and 221,272 teachers,” Mutsvangwa said at a press conference on December 15.
The country recorded 11,358 infections, 9,554 recoveries, and 309 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus as of Tuesday.