Can you describe how the third wave of COVID-19 is impacting Zimbabwe?
Rev. Dr Mtata: The third wave of COVID-19 has come to Zimbabwe with devastating effect as we have seen an increase of mortalities and morbidity. Unfortunately, we have seen not only the deaths of lay members but also clergy. The clergy provide important community and spiritual leadership in times such as these. To lose so many in such a short time has been difficult. The economic impact has also been huge since the majority of the population is self-employed but cannot go out to carry out their business due to lockdowns. Socially, we have seen an increase in domestic violence as families live under the pressure of the lockdown. Children from poor families cannot attend online classes because they cannot afford data. Young people are increasingly engaging in alcohol and drug abuse. Also, due to idleness, young people are engaging in unprotected sexual activity which has resulted in teenage pregnancies amongst the school-going girls. These are some of the negative impacts of COVID-19.
What are the ways in which churches can lead by example?
Rev. Dr Mtata: The church has been leading by example, especially in raising awareness regarding the pandemic and the encouragement of people to get vaccinated. Public actions of church leaders being vaccinated have encouraged many to take up vaccination. The church has also been providing vulnerable communities with food parcels to cushion them through the effects of the lockdown. The church has also continued to promote the suspension of church gatherings as well as masking up and sanitizing.
What can we as your ecumenical family pray for you?
Rev. Dr Mtata: We will be glad to receive prayers regarding personal protective equipment for pastors who are at the frontline of the pandemic; for improvement of our health institutions during and after the pandemic; and protection for those at the frontlines of dealing with the pandemic, including pastors.