Tributes were being paid to broadcasting “genius” Zororo Makamba, after the 30-year-old became the first person to succumb to coronavirus in Zimbabwe.
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Makamba, the son of Telecel founder James Makamba, died at the infectious diseases Wilkins Hospital in Harare on Monday, three days after he was admitted with “severe respiratory distress,” according to the ministry of health.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo said Makamba’s doctors advised that he had “other concurrent serious medical conditions which made him vulnerable.”
Former Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi described the former ZiFM presenter as a “humble and considerate guy”.
He was “a giant with so much potential”, said businessman and family friend Mutumwa Mawere.
Deputy information minister Energy Mutodi said in a Twitter tribute: “Coronavirus has robed us of… a sharp journalist who had a promising future. We are deeply saddened by his untimely death. May his soul rest in peace.”
Makamba left ZiFM to work as a consultant, and regularly produced explainer videos for government policy initiatives.
Makamba travelled to New York in the United States on February 29, returning March 9. He developed flu-like symptoms on March 12 and eventually saw his doctor on March 19 when he was finally tested for coronavirus, which cases the disease, Covid-19.
His health deteriorated very quickly after he was moved to Wilkins and placed in isolation on March 20.
MDC deputy president Tendai Biti described Zororo’s death as an “absolute tragedy”.
“No words can express our pain and shock. May this be a call to action, a call to urgency for this inept, corrupt and bankrupt regime that must take responsibility for this terrible tragedy,” Biti said.
Governments in this part of the world say we must benefit from our own resources. We must use our wildlife to fund our conservation. What say you? pic.twitter.com/qO05VqAuGp
— Zororo Makamba (@ZororoMakamba) November 14, 2019
Zororo’s death was being used as a rallying call by politicians, health professionals and ordinary Zimbabweans for the country to begin taking the disease seriously.
Earlier Monday, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights released a statement demanding that the government shuts down the outpatient departments at hospitals and allow hospitals to handle only emergency cases.
Doctors also want patients with symptoms of coronavirus to go to specific facilities to avoid infecting patients with other ailments. The doctors also want hospital visits for inpatients stopped, and they are demanding a pay increase from the government.
The government maintains that it only has recorded two positive coronavirus cases, including that of a 38-year-old Victoria Falls resident who fell ill after returning from a trip to Manchester in England.
Health minister Moyo urged Zimbabweans “not to panic” on Monday, maintaining that they have establish systems to detect and stop the spread of the virus – although few believe the government which has presided over the collapse of the country’s health sector.