It is very sad that the renowned journalist Zororo Makamba died yesterday due to a coronavirus infection. The foregoing is not meant to diminish that or tarnish his image in anyway. However both Zororo Makamba and the Ministry of Health made some grave errors when dealing with his case, an error so grave it might lead to more unnecessary deaths.
Zororo Makamba should have self-quarantined upon return
It is undisputed and widely reported that Zororo Makamba recently travelled to the United States where he almost certainly contracted the infection. Zororo Makamba travelled to New York in the United States on February 29 and returned to Harare via Johannesburg on March 9 according to Zimlive. He was taken sick on the 12 of March apparently.
The fiction the government has been peddling is that those who come back from other countries are supposed to self-quarantine for at least 14 days (this has since been increased to 21 days). The facts clearly show that Zororo Makamba did not follow this advice at all but instead went on a spree that has now put an unknown number of people in danger. Even the Herald admits that contact tracing the entire list of people who came into contact with Makamba is not going to be easy.
A minister’s lie, The Ministry’s hubris and grave mistake
Not only did the late Mr Makamba not self-quarantine himself, he visited clubs and places of businesses possibly infecting others who may well now be infecting others, when he was taken ill and tested positive the Ministry did not reveal his name! In fact they did worse, they flat out denied that he had coronavirus at all. In a twist of fate they were forced to swallow that lie when Mr Makamba finally passed away.
In keeping his name secret the Ministry lost valuable time during which individuals who came in contact with Mr Makamba would have identified themselves and self-quarantined. Instead now we have a mess on our hands. The web is now far more complex and memories fade, people who might have been in contact with him may even have forgotten about it, while they have been spreading the infection in other parts of the country.
In times like these the privacy of one individual is far outweighed by the need to protect the public. These are unusual times and the government needs to stop being deceitful. They have to be honest and transparent if we are to win the fight. China’s futile coverup is the reason we are in this mess to begin with. We don’t need any more coverups. These might prove fatal.
An early version of this article said James Makamba travelled to New York. It was his son Zororo who travelled.