By Thandiwe Garusa
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Monday all but gave Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s Covid-19 lockdown directives the middle finger when he presided over iconic Roman Catholic cleric Father Ribeiro’s burial attended by hundreds of mourners at the National Heroes’ Acre.
Chiwenga, who doubles as the country’s substantive health minister, recently decreed a maximum of 30 mourners per funeral.
The directive was in keeping with smaller crowds at funerals to avoid the rapid spread of Covid-19.
But Father Ribeiro’s burial was attended by hundreds, among them 20 priests, 10 religious sisters, 20 members from the Archdiocese choir, 30 parishioners from St Mary’s Parish, the band, security members, Doves employees, relatives to the late priest and several government officials who were not even practising social distancing.
Currently, some areas such Hurungwe, Karoi, Chinhoyi, Kwekwe, Kariba, Chirundu, Mt Darwin are under lockdown to try and contain rising coronavirus cases.
The President and other Zanu PF officials have often come under fire for ordering Covid-19 rules they go on to violate themselves.
Recently, Mnangagwa assembled hundreds of party supporters to witness the official unveiling of Mbuya Nehanda’s statue in central Harare where a lot of the supporters were not putting on facemasks.
Meanwhile, addressing mourners at the burial Monday, Mnangagwa told local businesses to stop exploiting their customers through exorbitant charges on goods and services.
“Father Ribeiro is the first ever cleric to be interred here at the National Heroes Acre. Indeed, the decision to honour him in this very special way was befitting and unanimous.
“The late Father Ribeiro was a clean man who hated corruption.
“The National Development Strategy-1 and Vision 2030 cannot be realised in an environment that breeds corruption.
“Equally, we must work together more concertedly to improve the welfare of our people.
“Businesspeople should not confuse profit for profiteering,” said Mnangagwa.