Zimbabwe foreign minister dies of COVID-19 amid resurgence

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (AP) — Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo, who gained prominence in 2017 as the military general who announced the coup against then-president Robert Mugabe on television, has died from COVID-19, the government announced on Wednesday. He was 61.

Moyo, previously little known to the public, became the face of the coup when he announced that the military had placed Mugabe under house arrest as the military’s armoured vehicles rolled into the capital, Harare. The coup ended Mugabe’s 37-year rule in Zimbabwe and he later died in September 2019. Moyo was appointed foreign affairs minister after President Emerson Mnangagwa took power with military backing.

Moyo “succumbed to COVID-19 at a local hospital” on Wednesday, Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba said in a statement.

Zimbabwe is experiencing a resurgence of the disease, with record numbers of daily confirmed cases and deaths.

Mnangagwa buried another Cabinet minister yesterday, Ellen Gwaradzimba, who died from COVID-19 last week.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo in Harare, Zimbabwe. PHOTO: AP

Opposition spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere said she has tested positive for COVID-19 after being released from prison. She was freed after seven days of detention on Monday.

Jailed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and other inmates have previously raised concern over crowded prison conditions, which they said encourages COVID-19 transmission among inmates and jail guards.

Harare mayor and opposition official, Jacob Mafume, released from jail this week after a month-long detention, is in isolation after his lawyers said three of his cellmates had died from COVID-19.

Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, initially recorded low numbers of COVID-19 but has recently experienced a spike in cases.

There are fears that a new, more infectious variant of the virus arrived from South Africa when scores of thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa returned home for the holiday season.