By Anna Chibamu
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned Zimbabweans to get vaccinated against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic or they will soon be barred from all public spaces.
Zimbabwe rolled out the national immunisation programme last week after receiving a donation of 200 000 Sinopharm doses from China.
Speaking in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North province Thursday, Mnangagwa said his government was expecting to purchase another 1,8 million doses from China before warning citizens avoiding inoculation that they would be barred from all public spaces.
Mnangagwa is yet to receive the vaccination.
A person who has been vaccinated is issued with a “Covid-19 Vaccination Card”.
“Don’t forget your Covid-19 Vaccination Card for the second dose. Make sure you keep this record card in your wallet. Keep it in a safe place,” the card reads in part.
Mnangagwa’s Thursday chilling warning was confirmed by his spokesperson George Charamba.
“Cde ED Mnangagwa, today (Thursday) broke his silence on whether or not (to take) the Covid-19 vaccination remains voluntary forever,” Charamba said after Mnangagwa’s speech.
“Those wishing to abstain from the vaccination programme are free to do, for as long as they accept the onerous trade-off: namely that they may have to be barred from public spaces, including accessing offices, shops, or riding mass transits like ZUPCO.”
Charamba added: “The leadership has and continues to demonstrate safety of the country’s chosen vaccines by being the first ones to have the vaccines administered on them, added the President, revealing he is set to be vaccinated in the second batch of the vaccine which is expected in the country in the next week or two.
“So, too, will his Cabinet ministers. So, asked the President, who are you to resist the vaccination programme thus imperiling the general public, including yourself and your family? The President invited Vice President (Constantino Chiwenga) up as proof that the Sinopharm vaccine was indeed safe.
“Many medical staff, themselves the core frontline in the fight against Covid-19, have been vaccinated under the programme which is wholly government funded and is meant to get Zimbabwe back to normalcy.”
Mnangagwa said there were companies who had approached government with proposals to import Covid-19 vaccines and sell them for a profit, but they had been turned away.
“If any company buys vaccines, they must be distributed freely. The Ministry of Health supported by (Finance Minister Mthuli) Ncube also bought two sets yesterday (Wednesday), 600 000 doses which will come during the first two weeks of March and another 1,2 million doses.”
Chiwenga was the first official to get injected when the vaccination programme was rolled out in Harare last week.
However, some Zimbabweans have raised concerns on being vaccinated with Sinopharm vaccine when the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to approve it while there many other approved inoculations from other countries.
In response to these dissenting voices, Charamba retorted: “Go to those countries for those vaccines; here we decide! Period. And to govern is to decide. You don’t dictate to us!”