MDC-T leader, Douglas Mwonzora, has received criticism for calling for the compulsory vaccination of citizens against Covid-19.
Zimbabwe is one of many other countries rolling out Covid-19 vaccination programmes for their populations, with the uptake in the Southern African nation still low.
Mwonzora, who last week travelled with President Emmerson Mnangagwa for the launch of the country’s second phase of immunisation has been quoted in the state-run Herald, calling for compulsory inoculations.
“Sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind,” said the opposition leader.
“We believe that vaccination should be made compulsory because it is for the protection of the nation. Because it is justifiable, and it is in the interests of public health I believe such a measure is perfectly constitutional.”
However, his remarks have since been criticized by Zimbabweans.
“Mwonzora is being overzealous and desperately and dangerously seeking political relevance unnecessarily,” said Qalani Nhliziyo, a Bulawayo resident.
He said it was regrettable for Mwonzora to call for mandatory vaccination when Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who is also Minister of Health and Child Care has said it is voluntary.
“Compulsory vaccination is satanic and is like the beast in Revelation Chapter 13 which forces people to have a triple six (666) mark to access basic amenities,” said Nhliziyo.
“Mwonzora’s motive is to gain political popularity and relevance – he is desperate for recognition after realizing that he has no one behind him.”
Mkhululi Tshuma, another resident of Bulawayo said no one should be forced to take any vaccine.
“People must be given enough knowledge about the efficacy of these vaccines and why it’s important for them to take them,” said Tshuma.
“Afterwards they should be given the right to choose if they will take it or not. For Mwonzora, a supposed-to-be constitutionalist to even make such insinuations is totally uncalled for. He should appreciate at least that the bill of rights in our 2013 construction forbids that. People must be vaccinated because they offer themselves it not to be forcibly vaccinated. That would be wrong.”
Political analyst, Sipho Nyoni said it is wrong for Mwonzora a lawyer and one of the architects of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to advocate for that.
“People must not be coerced when it comes to taking of the vaccine as there are legitimate reservations some might have over these vaccines,” said Nyoni.
“As deadly and disruptive as Covid-19 might be, people must still exercise their right and will when it comes to this issue of whether they are going to take the vaccine or not.”
Nyoni said Mwonzora could be strategically positioning himself for the position likely to be taken by the government should citizens continue to resist vaccination.
“It’s worth pointing out that the MDC Alliance has been critical about these vaccines and as he (Mwonzora) has perennially been at loggerheads with the Alliance ever since he left, it’s not surprising to see him come out with this view,” said Nyoni.
Another political analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya also said it was irresponsible for Mwonzora to advocate for compulsory vaccination.
“First of all, Douglas wrote the 2013 constitution; he knows about freedom of choice,” Ngwenya told CITE.
“In a democracy, you don’t force citizens to do things. That is authoritarian dictatorship. This man (Mwonzora) is so drunken with ZANU-PF money. He’s doing everything to please ED. If you have no political capital, you clutch at straws. If you can’t force anyone to vote, you couldn’t force them into anything. The era of archaic decrees is over.”