Covid-19 claims fourth Zimbabwean minister
Zimbabwe's Transport minister Joel Matiza has died of Covid-19, becoming the fourth minister to succumb to the respiratory disease since the outbreak began last year.
Matiza's death on Friday came days after the demise of Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo on Wednesday and of Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba a week ago.
Both ministers succumbed to Covid-19 after they were hospitalised early this month.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the latest death.
"Covid-19 has claimed yet another Cabinet minister in Honourable Joel Biggie Matiza, minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development," Mrs Mutsvangwa said.
"JB Matiza brought a new beginning and added vigour to the development of our road network, both trunk and ancillary.
"Joel Biggie Matiza was also a tried and tested cadre of the ruling party."
Zimbabwe has been recording a huge spike in Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the year, which experts believe is fuelled by the new South African variant.
On Friday the country recorded 45 deaths and 476 new Covid-19 cases.
Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 caseload now stands at 30 523 with 962 deaths and 21 080 recoveries.
Retired Air Marshall Perrance Shiri became the first minister to die of Covid-19 in July last year.
He together with the late Retired Lieutenant General Moyo, the Foreign Affairs minister, were instrumental in the 2017 coup that toppled long time ruler Robert Mugabe.
The deaths have raised fresh questions about Zimbabwe's capacity to handle the Covid-19 outbreak because of a weakened health delivery system.
The health delivery system has been compromised by years of underfunding and a severe brain drain is already being overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases.
A significant number of people are said to be dying in their homes as they cannot access health facilities.