Covid-19 kills Zimbabwe 'coup general' Douglas Nyikayaramba

Coronavirus

An illustration image obtained February 27, 2020, courtesy of the US Food and Drug Administration, shows the coronavirus.

Photo credit: AFP

What you need to know:

  • Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed a top diplomat as the new Foreign Affairs minister as he moves to replace members of his Cabinet who succumbed  to Covid-19 last month.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Mozambique, Retired Lieutenant-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, has died of Covid-19, state television said on Tuesday.

As Zimbabwe National Army Chief of Staff, Ambassador Nyikayaramba was instrumental in the coup that toppled President Robert Mugabe in 2017.

Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed a top diplomat as the new Foreign Affairs minister as he moves to replace members of his Cabinet who succumbed  to Covid-19 last month.

Zimbabwe last month lost three ministers to Covid-19, which brought the number of senior officials who have succumbed to the virus to four, since the first case was recorded last year.

The President redeployed Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Nations, Fraderick Shava, to replace the late Foreign Affairs minister Retired Lieutenant General Sibusiso Moyo.

He also appointed a new Transport minister as well as deputy ministers for Information, Foreign Affairs and Transport to fill vacant posts.

Tainted past

The county had keen been awaiting the appointment of a new Foreign Affairs minister as it tries to reset relations with the international community after nearly two decades of isolation.

Critics say, however, that Dr Shava was the wrong choice given his criminal record following conviction for perjury.

The former ambassador to China was jailed for nine months by the High Court after he was caught up in a scandal involving the reselling of cars.

A number of Cabinet ministers and government officials were involved in the 1980s scandal, but Dr Shava was pardoned by the late former president Robert Mugabe before serving any time.

Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law academic at the University of Kent in United Kingdom, said the appointment could have been influenced by re-engagement imperatives with the West.

"(President) Mnangagwa hopes (Dr Shava) has built solid links with Western diplomats in New York and that his network will help him in the re-engagement efforts," Dr Magaisa said.

"It may be that (Dr) Shava will bring in a new dimension to the foreign engagements."

Tensions rising

After a thawing of relations between Zimbabwe and the West following a military coup that toppled Mr Mugabe, tensions have been rising of late because of concerns about President Mnangagwa’s commitment to reforms.

The United Kingdom last week slapped travel bans and asset freezes on four security chiefs it accused of engineering violence that led to the deaths of protestors.

It was the first set of punitive measures against individuals by the UK as it began to roll out an independent sanctions regime against  Zimbabwe after pulling out of the European Union (EU) at the end of last year.

The EU, which has maintained targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe since 2002 for alleged electoral fraud and human rights violations, is expected to renew the embargo this month.

Other countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe are the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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