By Mary Taruvinga
A KWEKWE-based primary school teacher, Mercy Mjikwa, has dragged the Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga to court over new Covid-19 rules targeting unvaccinated citizens.
In an urgent chamber application, Mjikwa and Tolerance Nyamukapa are seeking to overturn the regulations, which bar unvaccinated people to sit-in in restaurants, to be declared unlawful.
Mjikwa argues the rule could affect her ability to participate in public gatherings, enter public places, and she might lose her job.
On September 17, Chiwenga, who is also Zimbabwe Vice President, issued Statutory Instrument (SI) 228B, which ordered all restaurants and hotels offering restaurant services to serve customers on a sit-in basis only if they exhibit proof of having been fully vaccinated.
The SI also allows public gatherings for a maximum of 100 people subject to strict adherence with Covid-19 regulations such as wearing of face masks, temperature checks, sanitising of hands, and social distancing.
“I submit that the compulsory vaccine mandate contained in the Statutory Instrument above is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution and, therefore, invalid to that extent,” the High Court application reads.
“For the government to impose vaccination…is not only to invade my dignity but to also attack it irreparably.”
Mjikwa also cited Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as the respondents.
She told the court the new mandate should be declared illegal as it disregards the public’s constitutional rights to choose and unofficially forces people to get vaccinated.
“I am now required to be vaccinated before I can be allowed to enter facilities such as health spas, theatres, gymnasiums, and public gatherings at the discretion of the convener of the gathering.
“In short, these regulations are unmistakably coercive and cannot reasonably be considered anything other than an unlawful mandate.
“If I refuse the inoculation, I am subjected to disciplinary proceedings including termination of my employment. The conduct referred above, therefore, flouts the Constitution and the declaration of my fundamental rights.”
Mjikwa is begging the courts to nullify the mandate and declare that SI 228B unconstitutional as it breaches sections 134, 51, 56, 58, 66, 68, and 71 of the Constitution.
The matter is yet to be heard.