By Judith Sibanda
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and some opposition politicians received China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine in the resort city of Victoria Falls on Wednesday as part of efforts to encourage citizens to get inoculated.
Officiating at the event Mnangagwa spoke at length on the importance of vaccinating and adherence to Covid-19 regulations.
“I challenge all of us in our respective communities to accept the vaccination programme and to shun vaccine hesitancy, misinformation and the negative conspiracy theories,” Mnangagwa said before receiving his first shot.
“It remains encouraging that out national Covid-19 infection rate is declining, while the recovery rate stands at over 90%,” Mnangagwa said.
“This positive rate should not lead to complacency, let us remain vigilant.
“Notwithstanding the availability of vaccines, I exhort all of us to continue adhering to the set Covid-19 World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and protocols as well as our national lockdown measures.”
The government encouraged all eligible Victoria Falls residents to be vaccinated to ensure the international tourism destination was safe for visitors.
As of Wednesday Zimbabwe had recorded 36 665 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1 512 deaths.
Zimbabwe has registered vaccines from China, India and Russia for emergency use.
In a country where suspicion and skepticism often trump facts, Mnangagwa’s vaccination at a public event, together with opposition leaders, he said, was meant to assure citizens that the vaccines were safe.
“Going forward, let us build on the singleness of purpose demonstrated here today, and move together in unity, love, harmony to build the Zimbabwe we want,” he said.
“As political leaders, it is incumbent on us to galvanize the people to always act in the national interest, and to be productive, honest and hard working for the prosperity of our great country.
“… I therefore challenge all of us in our respective communities to accept the vaccination programme and to shun vaccine hesitancy, misinformation and the negative conspiracy theories.
“Getting vaccinated is a personal and family responsibility as well as a national obligation as it further advances our country’s global obligation to combat the continued spread and negative socio-economic effects of the Covid19 pandemic, in line with the United Nations and African Union expectations. “
China donated 400 000 Sinopharm doses to Zimbabwe, which went on to purchase 1.2 million Sinovac doses.
The second phase of Zimbabwe’s vaccination programme will target teachers, members of the judiciary and security services as well as the elderly, Mnangagwa said.