NewsDay (Zimbabwe)

No jab, no PSC bus ride: Govt

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immediate effect.

“Line ministries should rotate staff in such a manner that no employee shall remain at home for more than 21 days at a stretch.”

Zimbabwe National Teachers Union chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said the directive had deviated from the initial government position, and violated constituti­onal rights and freedoms.

“Why deviate from the original position where the same government said it was not going to force anyone to be vaccinated,” Nyawo said.

Zimbabwe Teachers Associatio­n secretary-general Goodwill Taderera confirmed that his union had received the circular.

Progressiv­e Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou described the decision to force civil servants to be vaccinated as “madness”.

“Vaccinatio­n must be voluntary and not mandatory. Civil servants will resist the mandatory model by all means necessary,” he said.

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in the country, with fatalities hitting 102 last Friday.

Mnangagwa has in the past threatened to make COVID-19 vaccinatio­n mandatory in the wake of a surge in confirmed cases and fatalities in the country.

Although vaccinatio­n is voluntary in the country, the increase in incidents in which a vaccinatio­n certificat­e is required has created a huge demand for the document.

An investigat­ion by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Developmen­t (Zimcodd) has exposed that some health workers were reportedly demanding bribes to release COVID-19 vaccinatio­n cards to unvaccinat­ed people.

Informatio­n minister Monica Mutsvangwa, in a post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday said government was concerned over the surge in cases attributab­le to general complacenc­y in communitie­s and workplaces.

“In light of the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, Cabinet approved the decongesti­ng of both public and private sector workplaces,” Mutsvangwa said.

“In taking the lead, government has further reduced its workforce to (10%), on a two-week rotational interval. Priority will be given to the vaccinated personnel,” she said.

She said the courts would be opened only for remand and urgent cases.

“... that all civil servants should be vaccinated and those that fall ill without having been vaccinated will not be entitled to the COVID-19 insurance,” she said.

“That all civil servants should be tested for COVID-19 at the commenceme­nt and end of the two-week rotational interval; that a locum-based COVID-19 risk allowance payment model will be adopted for the health personnel in the red zone as part of the incentive schemes.”

Cabinet said more vaccines would be made available soon to ensure that the country vaccinated over 10 million people required to achieve 60% herd immunity.

In June, government set July 14 as the deadline for all frontline health workers to get vaccinated against the global pandemic to be eligible for COVID-19 insurance payouts.

In the same month, Vice-President and Health minister Constantin­o Chiwenga announced that vaccinatio­n would “soon” become mandatory at busy public markets in Harare and Bulawayo.

However, the country, which is in the grip of the third wave of infections driven by the Delta and Beta variants of the virus, is facing a shortage of COVID-19 vaccinatio­n cards.

In its latest situationa­l analysis of the COVID-19 vaccinatio­n programme by community resource monitors, Zimcodd said officials in the health sector were issuing vaccinatio­n cards to unvaccinat­ed people, putting the government’s vaccinatio­n programme in jeopardy.

Health deputy minister John Mangwiro, however, told NewsDay that he was not aware of the issue, but promised to investigat­e.

Government in February this year launched the national vaccinatio­n programme, and as at yesterday morning, 1,18 million people had received the first dose and 643 203 the second dose.

As of July 19, Zimbabwe had recorded 85 732 COVID-19 cases, 55 714 recoveries and 2 697 deaths, according to official figures.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has written to Chiwenga demanding that those vaccinated should be issued with proper vaccinatio­n cards, instead of hand-written cards.

ZLHR lawyer Paidamoyo Saurombe said his organisati­on had observed that some vaccinatio­n centres were not issuing vaccinatio­n cards, but hand-written papers in place of vaccinatio­n cards.

Saurombe said failure to issue vaccinatio­n cards would compromise government’s vaccinatio­n efforts.

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