THE Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA) on Monday received food parcels from Frank Buyanga’s African Medallion Group (AMG) to feed 120 families after they complained of being denied aid by the host government during the coronavirus lockdown.
Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairperson of the Zimbabwean community confirmed receipt of the rescue package, saying the lockdown had left most foreigners stranded.
“We thank AMG for the provision of basic food parcels to 120 Zimbabwean families currently living in South Africa. As ZCSA, we are excited to receive this relief,” he said.
Mabhena added: “We have been receiving calls from Zimbabweans and other migrants living in South Africa expressing their need for food aid ever since the lockdown was implemented. Today, thanks to AMG, 120 families have been assisted with food packs which can at least keep them going for a few more days and we hope that other businesspeople will hear our plight.”
Speaking at the handover ceremony, AMG chief executive officer Itai Mashingaidze said: “We have come here today to answer the call made by our African brothers and sisters from Zimbabwe currently plying their trade across various sectors of industry in South Africa affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The commitment to serve our communities, including those from our neighbouring countries, has never been more important as we collectively, as a continent, try to navigate the unprecedented challenges posed by this global pandemic.”
Meanwhile, the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has warned that Zimbabwe’s congested oldest suburbs in which the bulk of elderly people reside face fatalities if citizens do not go into isolation.
In its latest report released on Wednesday, MIHR said evidence from COVID-19-ravaged countries and health experts shows that elderly people were at high risk of contracting the disease.
Zimbabwe has recorded 28 COVID-19 cases and four deaths with the latest fatality being that of an 82-year-old Mhondoro woman.
“As coronavirus pandemic percolates Africa, we ponder on the anguish and agony of Zimbabwean elderly people in dealing with the virus through the postulated preventive measures of good hygiene, physical distancing and self-isolation for mild cases. Firstly, most elderly people in urban areas of Zimbabwe are poor and survive on meagre retirement gratuities and paltry social grants,” the report read.
“Most of these elderly poor are congested in old pre-independence, communal facilities using poorly ventilated single quarters like Minyela, Mabuthweni, Makokoba, parts of Mzilikazi, and Matshobana suburbs in Bulawayo. Most of these habitations are former mining or industrial servants’ quarters which were never meant to promote human dignity and are not even fit for poultry rearing.”
The human rights group said the housing conditions for poor elderly people in most African cities were breeding grounds for coronavirus infections.
The organisation said adapting and coping with physical distancing would be a painful quandary for most urban poor elderly people in Zimbabwe who frequent beerhalls to play darts, igwini (tsoro) and socialise.
MIHR called on government to set up institutionalised isolation centres for the elderly and to ratify the Protocol on the Rights of Elderly Persons in Africa.