Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a press conference in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, March 17, 2020. In an update to the nation on Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared COVID-19 a national disaster, saying that the country had escalated its national response to the virus after neighboring countries in the region had reported cases. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday appealed to Zimbabweans to uphold peace and shun violence for the development of the country.

The president made the remarks at the burial of former agriculture minister Perrance Shiri at the National Heroes Acre in Harare. Shiri, 65, died of COVID-19 on Wednesday and was declared a national hero.

Mnangagwa called for peace as protests called by the opposition and civic groups on Friday flopped, with many parts of the country remaining peaceful while most businesses were closed. “We need peace, peace, perfect peace for national development.

Let us shun strife, violence and disunity. Proponents of such divisive and ruinous acts must be rejected and exposed,” Mnangagwa said.

He said the nation must redouble efforts to stop the scourge of COVID-19, and appealed to medical workers, some of who are on strike demanding better pay, to show compassion.

“I call on our medical staff to act in the national interest and exhibit a great sense of responsibility. My government hears your cries, listens to your concerns.

But the time to serve is now. Your grievances, which we acknowledge and continue to address, can not be enjoyed at the expense of the loss of life,” Mnangagwa said. As of Thursday, Zimbabwe had reported 3,092 COVID-19 cases including 53 deaths and 924 recoveries.

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