Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has warned citizens they may find it difficult to get a job if they don’t take the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.
According to the president, nobody would be forced to take the jabs but even something as simple as taking a local bus will be forbidden for those who aren’t vaccinated.
Mnangagwa anger comes on the heels of news that medical workers in Zimbabwe are reluctant to take Covid-19 vaccinations received from China.
Zimbabwe had begun vaccination last week after it received 200,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine on Monday, 15 February 2021. A further 600,000 doses are expected to arrive in the country by early March. The country is also expected to receive over 1.1 million doses as part of the Covax program.
Enock Dongo, the president of the 12,000-member Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZNA), said the number of health workers – who are first in line for the vaccination – getting the jabs since the programme began is low.
Dongo blamed the lack of clarity over whether China’s Sinopharm vaccine protects against the virus variant that emerged in neighbouring South Africa.
Mnangagwa, addressing supporters in Matabeleland Province, called such concerns unfounded and noted that after the nation’s vice president had the first jab, “he is still here.”
Developers of the Sinopharm vaccine say it is 79% effective against coronavirus.
But its efficacy against the more contagious variant, now dominant in Zimbabwe, is still unclear.
Mnangagwa’s threats have been criticised by observers who argued that they would increase fears that the Zimbabwean government has “weaponized Covid-19”.
They noted that the threats may further undermine confidence in vaccines that have been proven to be safe and effective at preventing serious illness and death.