Fungi Kwaramba and Joseph Madzimure
ZIMBABWEANS from across the political divide and different religions will tomorrow troop to the resort town of Victoria Falls to join President Mnangagwa as he launches the second phase of the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme where he and other leaders will be inoculated.
As Government accelerates the nationwide vaccination programme, which is key to the reopening of the economy to full throttle — residents of the world-famous tourism destination will also have a chance to get the free jabs on a voluntary basis.
The vaccination blitz in Victoria Falls will pave way for the unlimited resumption of the key tourism sector, which for more than a year now has been hamstrung by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This comes as Zimbabwe last week took delivery of a second batch of Covid-19 vaccines from China, putting the nation on course to meet its target of vaccinating at least 60 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity.
It also comes as the nation has budgeted US$10 million to ensure that any person willing to get the vaccine will get it free of charge.
The Government has invited Church leaders, who include the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the Zimbabwe Catholic Conference and the Zimbabwe (ZCC) Indigenous Inter-Denominational Council of Churches led by Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi.
Also invited are all political leaders in the country as the Second Republic, under President Mnangagwa, continues with its inclusive stance to have everyone involved.
The Government has extended the same invitation to political parties that include the MDC-T led by Mr Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-Alliance led by Mr Nelson Chamisa and the National Constitution Assembly (NCA) led by Prof Lovemore Madhuku to partake in the vaccination programme.
Mr Douglas Mwonzora, who leads the country’s biggest opposition party in terms of parliamentary representation, threw his weight behind the President’s efforts to have people vaccinated.
“First and foremost, people must be vaccinated, since it is the only sensible way of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. I do agree with the stance taken by President Mnangagwa and the Government to invite all political leaders to the launch. Political leaders should lead by example, so that people can be vaccinated. The continued denial (of the Covid-19 vaccines) by some political figures is unsubstantiated. There is no need to politicise the vaccination programme, let us make sure that our people are vaccinated.”
“I have received my first jab in Parliament so I am waiting for my second jab. I encourage Zimbabweans to take the vaccination programmes seriously since it is the only way to fight the pandemic, so I will attend (the Victoria Falls vaccination programme) to support the vaccination programme” said Mr Mwonzora.
MDC-Alliance spokesperson Ms Fadzai Mahere said the Chamisa-led party supports the Government vaccination roll-out plan.
“As highlighted by MDC-A president Nelson Chamisa at the presentation of our alternative Covid-19 Response Plan earlier this year, fighting the pandemic is a collective effort that offers no room for politicking. The central objective must always be to save lives and mitigate suffering. As we have highlighted time and again, we support the roll-out of a widespread vaccination drive in the fight against Covid-19.”
Contacted later for a comment, Mr Chamisa said he was unlikely to attend the vaccination roll-out event because he had not been officially invited.
On his part, NCA leader Prof Madhuku, commended the gesture by President Mnangagwa and the Government for inviting all political leaders in the country to attend the second phase of the national vaccination programme.
“I am only waiting for the logistical arrangements for the trip to Victoria Falls. I will certainly attend and get vaccinated and I encourage Zimbabweans to take the vaccination seriously. We want our people to take the Government’s commitment towards vaccination seriously. The vaccination programme initiated by the Government is a welcome move. Our people should be vaccinated.”
Prof Madhuku, is also party to the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), a platform where President Mnangagwa invited all political players in the country to be party to, so as to contribute to national development, in an inclusive manner.
More than 15 parties are part of Polad, whose representative Dr Divine Hove said they will be attending the launch because Covid-19 knows no political affiliation.
“In fact, it’s a global pandemic. The executive committee of the party I lead has therefore resolved that the attendance of political party leaders is a good gesture in the face of a united resolve in fighting the pandemic. We cannot afford to politicise this one.”
Another Polad member, Mr Welcome Shumba said President Mnangagwa is leading by example and all progressive Zimbabweans should take a cue from his leadership to ensure that the nation is vaccinated.
“Yes I will be part of the team. This is a very convincing, exemplary, and motivating initiative taken by His Excellency President Mnangagwa and other progressive political parties to lead the nation in the vaccination process. The move by his Excellency shows maturity in his leadership qualities where he always engages with other political players on national issues. This nation should learn from this exercise and do away with negative social media reports about the vaccination,” said Mr Shumba.
Currently, Zimbabwe is inoculating the populace using the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. It will also get antidotes from India, the United Kingdom and Russia against the pandemic.
Leader of the Democratic Opposition Party (DOP) Mr Harry Peter Wilson said the second phase of the national vaccination programme will put Zimbabwe on the forefront in the fight against Covid-19.
“This will put Zimbabwe in the forefront of the rest of the African leaders, encouraging them to follow suit. We as a party are taking care of our people and we applaud the President for including us in this momentous decision that will affect not only the political parties but the health of our country. We need to be mindful that WHO has declared Covid-19 a global pandemic with talk of a vaccine passport in the future. I plan to join them on Wednesday,” he said.
With political parties set to join the vaccination second phase launch, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Rev Kenneth Mtata, which represents denominations such as the Anglican and Methodists Churches said Zimbabweans should embrace the vaccines.
“In the past weeks, we have been consulting with the church leaders, with the medical practitioners, for us to have a deeper understanding of the vaccine and all the challenges and risks associated with it. We have concluded that this vaccine is useful to protecting people against Covid-19 virus.
“Therefore, we are encouraging people to get vaccinated, I have been vaccinated myself and I call upon all our clergy to be vaccinated. We don’t do this only for ourselves but also for our congregants.”
Despite the dark shadow cast by Covid-19, under President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe has managed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus through a raft of timely interventions that include lockdowns, sticking to WHO guidelines, such as wearing face masks and social distancing, which all remain mandatory notwithstanding having been vaccinated or not.