By Alex Chapiko
IN March 2020, Zimbabwe recorded its first Covid-19 case and since then the novel coronavirus has spread like veld fire.
Health institutions have been overwhelmed by the infections with over 91 000 cases so far while more than 2 800 have succumbed to the disease.
The government has responded with an aggressive vaccination programme which has seen over four million doses sourced from China, India and Russia.
And in this battle, some private companies have shown commitment in helping the government reduce the effects of Covid-19.
Corporates have joined the war against the virus and Sakunda Holdings has made significant contributions through donation of cash, medical equipment, refurbishment of public hospital wards and establishing a Covid-19 health facility.
Sakunda Holdings chief executive Kudakwashe Tagwirei has been at the forefront of the anti-Covid drive as his firm equipped a 30-bed Arundel hospital.
While the businessman is busy fighting the pandemic at a national scale, the United Kingdom turn a blind eye on such life-saving gestures and impose sanctions against Tagwirei.
The UK has had a hostile stance towards Zimbabwe after the implementation of the successful land reform programme.
Senior government officials and companies have been sanctions by the UK and its European Union and United States allies.
But this, however, does not deter successful black businesspeople from helping their countrymen against the pandemic.
Sakunda, with business interests in fuel, mining and logistics, then refurbished wards at government-owned Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and the United Bulawayo Hospitals to meet the needs of Covid-19 patients. The facilities are accessible to all Zimbabweans free of charge.
Recently, Tagwirei increased his donations with a US$5,5 million kitty to help the government response to the pandemic.
The Sakunda CE handed over cash and equipment to President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a recent function where the former pledged to continue rallying behind the government in improving livelihoods ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tagwirei chipped in with a $170 million donation towards the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines to assist in the achievement of the vaccination of 10 million people by December 2021.
Zimbabwe is pursuing a robust vaccination rollout and is one of the leading countries in sub-Saharan Africa with 12.1 percent of the targeted 9 763 988 having being inoculated as at July 20.
Said Tagwirei: “Sakunda is donating six truckloads of assorted medical consumables which include injections, airway management, products, wound care products, among others for rural hospital worth $91 million.
“Sakunda has noticed the effects of Covid-19 on the well-being of Zimbabweans among them, the following: some parents have lost their ability to pay university tuition fees for their children; our health care system is inundated with a huge number of Covid-19 patients; increase in number of citizens who now require urgent Covid-19 vaccination and compromised livelihoods of the people, especially young people.”
Part of the cash donation by Sakunda will be channeled towards payment of tuition fees for university students.
“Sakunda Holdings acknowledges the commitment by the government to positively impact the livelihoods of the people of our great nation Zimbabwe,” he said.
A financial institution where Tagwirei has significant shareholding –CBZ Bank – also donated US$250 000 to fight the pandemic.
President Mnangagwa paid tribute to Sakunda Holdings for the immense philanthropic work thus far.
A specialist physician at Parirenyatwa Hospital who cannot be named for professional reasons said the charitable work by Sakunda Holdings in assisting health institutions should be appreciated given the negative impact of Covid-19 on livelihoods.
“Sakunda seems to be doing a lot in terms of donations or ploughing back to the community during these difficult times. Medical sundries and consumables donated by Sakunda are of great help especially to the vulnerable members of the community who cannot afford high medical medicals at private institutions. More importantly, the cash donation to purchase vaccines cannot go unnoticed as we all pin hopes of getting more vaccines to reduce infections, severe illnesses and deaths,” said the medical doctor.