Harare – The Zimbabwean government invited only a handful of dignitaries to the official Heroes and Defence Forces celebrations on Monday and Tuesday – and proof of vaccination against COVID-19 was a prerequisite for attendance.
Across the public and private sectors in the country, vaccination is quickly becoming mandatory for employees as well as for those seeking to access basic services.
For instance, only vaccinated civil servants can use transport to and from work provided by the government.
In a circular, the chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Dr Jonathan Wutawunashe, said: “Only members with proof of vaccination against COVID-19 shall board PSC buses. The PSC shall observe social distancing in buses, with each bus carrying a maximum of 35 passengers. The PSC shall ensure fumigation of buses daily and after each trip.”
In addition to this, the government this week said only people who have been inoculated can congregate at churches.
Telecommunications firm TelOne has sent unvaccinated workers on forced leave, a position adopted by several other companies.
Seedco, a seed manufacturer, has instituted an internal vaccination drive that has also been extended to external stakeholders such as farmers. The company has said unvaccinated workers cannot enter its premises – and neither can people seeking the company’s services.
Drinks-maker Delta Beverages has also pursued a similar route.
Zimbabwe’s national vaccination drive has been globally lauded as the government has procured millions of doses of vaccines – mostly from China, India and Russia – to inoculate its populace.
More than one million people in the country of about 16 million have received at least one dose and hundreds of thousands are fully vaccinated.
The resort town of Victoria Falls has already vaccinated more than 60 percent of its population, thus attaining herd immunity, and it is has been reopened to tourism, albeit with health protocols still in place.
As President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended a soft lockdown for another fortnight this week, he once again urged citizens to embrace vaccination.