By Leopold Munhende
DEFENCE Minister Oppah Muchinguri has rubbished statements by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa that government had introduced mandatory vaccination for all civil servants in the health sector, highlighting the policy confusion in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s flailing administration.
Mutsvangwa last week torched a storm when she said government would withdraw allowances for frontline workers who were not vaccinated against the virulent infection by July 14.
But in a dramatic volte-farce, Muchinguri – considered as Mutsvangwa’s senior in government circles – said there would not be any forced vaccinations as the programme was purely voluntary.
She was responding to questions from journalists during a press conference Friday.
“Forced? We are very pleased by the results we have attained so far from the civil service, and it also translates to the military, the security sector,” Muchinguri said.
“I would say almost 90% of our security and defence forces are now vaccinated. We are pleased by the response from that sector which you have raised. As it is right now, the demand is outweighing the supply. I think more people realise that there are more benefits to accrue when you are vaccinated,” she said.
Government data shows that only 20% state employees within the health sector have been vaccinated against Covid-19 as most of them remain sceptical of the jab.
During the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday last week, Mutsvangwa warned civil servants in the health sector that they risked losing their Covid-19 allowances if they failed to get their doses by 14 July.
“After this date, those who would not have been vaccinated will not receive Covid-19 insurance pay-outs,” Mutsvangwa sha said.
Mnangagwa had himself also declared previously that “no-one would escape” being inoculated.
“I urge all the officers, graduates to take the injection. No-one can refuse,” Mnangagwa said in his keynote address at the graduation of 1,200 prison officers in Ntabazinduna, near Bulawayo.
Vice president and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga has also declared that market traders would not be given trading stalls unless they can prove that they have been vaccinated.
However, officially, vaccination remains voluntary across the country.
Covid-19 infections and deaths have been climbing in recent weeks.