Local companies join COVID-19 fight

By Tafadzwa Mhlanga

LOCAL corporates have taken proactive measures to join the fight against the coronavirus outbreak that has led a nationwide three week lockdown to contain its spread.

With government resources stretched and struggling to provide equipment and social services to health professionals at the frontline of the fight and the poor who have no income as a result of the lockdown, the private sector has stepped in to help.

The pandemic and lockdown are threatening the livelihoods of a significant percentage of the population that relies on subsistence farming and informal economic activities.

Access Forex has embarked on a “Feed A Million Challenge” initiative and invested US$200 000 meant to buy food humpers for the vulnerable communities like the elderly, child headed families and orphans.

“We have committed a seed of US$200 000 towards a target fund of US$1 million, which will provide food aid to the vulnerable communities specifically child-headed homes, orphans and the elderly. The proposed food hampers that will be distributed include rice, maize meal, cooking oil, flour, pasta and salt. These are products you supply and we are finalising the initial orders that will be needed during this lockdown period,” said the company’s executive director, George Chirwa.

Chirwa extended the challenge to all Zimbabweans, mainly to those in the diaspora, with the aim of relieving the vulnerable communities.

“We have partnered with Caritas Zimbabwe, the official Catholic agency for humanitarian and development work in Zimbabwe, which works with relevant line ministries such as the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare,” he said.

“Through the #FeedAMillion challenge we will also be appealing to you to join hands with us and contribute towards this initiative. We have also extended this challenge to all Zimbabweans especially those in the diaspora. It is our ardent hope that together we will be able to uplift the vulnerable members of our community.”

Chirwa said the food aid will initially be given to communities in Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, then eventually rolled out across the country.”

Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) also stepped in to aid the fight against COVID-19 through a donation of bed sheest, hand towels and pillow cases to national health institutions that include Wilkins Hospital, Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare, Thorngrove Hospital in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

“It is important that we all come together as citizens and business to help the government in dealing with COVID-19. As Rainbow Tourism Group we played our small part by way of a donation of 2 100 items of linen through the Ministry of Health and Child Care channelled to our national institutions that include Wilkins Hospital, Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare, Thorngrove Hospital in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. This donation comprises bed sheets, hand towels and pillow cases etc valued at more than half a million,” said the RTG chief executive Tendai Madziwanyika.

Personal protective equipment have been a challenge for several entities with hand sanitisers and face mask prices having been rising during this lockdown period.

Delta Corporation early this week handed over medical accessories to the Zimbabwe Republic Police for use by police officers on COVID-19 lockdown deployment.

Forex Trading School founder and chief trading officer, Kudakwashe Manzanga early this year setup a network of foreign currency traders, Trader Support Network, who have committed to put up part of their profits to help in the COVID-19 fight. The group this week received a donation that enabled them to purchase maize meal stocks, 3 000 face masks. Manzanga said he would also pour in additional funds to secure more face masks and other necessary goods as part of efforts to fight COVID-19.

He said the traders would make a presentation to the State minister in Bulawayo next week.

“We are also speaking to other traders in the community to come on board and assist in this initiative. I hope this initiative is further impetus for other traders to give into this and (collectively get a positive response),” he said.

On Thursday, Old Mutual Zimbabwe announced $2 billion worth of cover for health professionals on the COVID-19 frontline for a period of six months.

In addition, it will provide healthcare staff at Sally Mugabe Hospital formerly Harare Hospital and Thorngrove in Bulawayo with protective gear, and will assist Africa University in Mutare and Chinhoyi University of Science Education to ramp up production of sanitisers and face masks.

”In this period of crisis, we have mobilised to work alongside those who are fighting the pandemic, which is why we have decided to make this practical gesture of support to our hospital staff, who are working to ensure adequate care for patients as well as universities which are innovating to produce key materials required to fight the pandemic,” said Sam Matsekete Old Mutual chief executive officer.

Unlike with traditional cover offered, this is neither a product nor a policy and no premiums will be recovered on it during the six months free period. The donation was made under the umbrella of the Business Fighting COVID initiative.

“Everyone (needs to) understand that this is a collective fight, a collaborative fight, it’s a fight that should bring us together. The only way we can win is to fight together,” said Kenias Mafukidze, the Alpha Media Holdings chief executive and a member of the initiative at the presentation.

Meanwhile, Solidarity Trust of Zimbabwe (SOTZIM) has arranged interventions around five key areas in the COVID-19 fight.
SOTZIM was established by a group of concerned citizens in March 2020 as a response to the developing COVID-19 pandemic and secured a memorandum of understanding with the Health and Child Welfare ministry to carry out work across the country.

The organisation said it successfully organised a joint venture with the St Anne’s Hospital as a COVID-19 response centre and secured the use of Ekusileni Hospital for similar use. It also facilitated a first-contact screening via a 24-7 contact centre where the general public will receive medical advice and treatment guidelines from doctors and nurses trained by the World Health Organisation.

“The contact centre will undertake first-line screening and provide citizens with accurate medical advice and treatment guidelines. Lines will be manned 24 hours, seven days a week by nurses and doctors trained in WHO COVID-19 protocols,” it said in a statement early this week.