A PARTY to celebrate the promotion of Gabriel Mhumha as substantive provincial education director on 23 December last year in Chinhoyi has turned out to be a “grave mistake” after some officials succumbed to Covid-19 barely three weeks after the event.
Hurungwe district education remedial officer Tendai Kufa died on 8 January 2021. He was among those who attended the party in the provincial capital at Sinoia Primary School.
Kufa’s death was officially confirmed as Covid-19-related, forcing his family to abort a previously planned rural burial.
Kufa was a psychologist at Hurungwe district education offices at Magunje growth point, 35 kilometres west of Karoi town.
Several education officers representing the province’s seven districts, namely Hurungwe, Makonde, Kariba, Zvimba, Kadoma and Sanyati, attended the party.
As fate had it, Mhumha lost his wife soon after the party. Asked in a telephone interview how many education officers had died due to Covid-19, Mhumha said he was unaware.
‘‘I am sorry I don’t have any information and figures as am bereaved. I lost my wife on 5 January this year so am not aware of any officers who passed on due to Covid-19. I am off duty.’’
He would neither confirm nor deny that his wife had succumbed to Covid-19. Kufa’s family posted on social media confirming that his death was Covid-19-related. The family said he had underlying conditions as he was suffering from hypertension and diabetes. The message was a big blow to the family that had prepared to bury him at his rural home of Bashungwe in Hurungwe.
The message read: “The death of our beloved Elder, Mr. Tendai Kufa has been certified to be Covid induced. We sincerely apologise as authorities delayed in giving us the results. We therefore apologise to those who had gathered for the funeral innocently and we pray you were not exposed to the deadly virus.
We only received the news when Nyaradzo Funeral Services delivered the body today (Saturday). Now that this has been declared a Covid-19 death, we are subject to World Health Organisation and government guidelines when such deaths occur.
No gatherings and the body shall no longer be transported to Bashungwe as had been planned. The burial shall be in Karoi. For and on behalf of the Kufa family and Seventh Day Adventist church family, we wish to apologise to you all. Please take all the necessary precautions for Covid is real and amongst us. May God be with us in these trying times.’’
However, just as Kufa’s death was haunting the education sector and civil servants in Hurungwe, a former deputy provincial education director, Muchineripi Ndewere, died on Saturday in Magunje a day after Kufa’s death. Ndewere had retired but attended Mhumha’s celebration party.
Another senior teacher at a private school near Chinhoyi also died a few days later and was among the party delegates.
Ironically, education provincial offices postponed indefinitely Hurungwe’s Samanyanga Cultural village stakeholders meeting at Batanai Primary School due to Covid-19 infections spike locally and internationally last November.
The meeting was set be held at Gandavaroyi Falls, one of the district cultural tourism attractions. Mhumha confirmed that they cancelled the meeting following infection of Chinhoyi High School pupils.
He said this was done as they ‘‘could not allow our students to be part of large groupings. We are doing this as a security measure on students’ health welfare after we had confirmation of infections at Chinhoyi High School.”
However, the tables have turned for the top education officers with teachers calling for testing and fumigation of provincial offices, Zimbabwe Examinations Council (Zimsec) and Hurungwe district education offices.
A teacher who declined to be named said: ‘‘Officials who attended the party went to their offices and operated normally. This is denial stage that must stop in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in Mashonaland West regional offices in Chinhoyi and Hurungwe district offices in Magunje.
The offices must be fumigated thoroughly, all officers manning must be tested for Covid-19. We appeal to non-government organisations to donate adequate sanitizers, personal protection equipment and help education officers affected after the party.’’
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