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Citizens at risk – ZDI

THE Zimbabwe Democracy Institute has rang alarm bells, following Government’s enforced 6 pm curfew that has seen citizens queue up at ZUPCO bus termini in Harare and Bulawayo, leading to termini becoming COVID- 19 super spreaders.

According to an excerpt from a recent report by the non-governmental organisation titled: “Access to public health monitoring report July 2021, Government Response to Covid-19 3rd Wave: More needs to be done,” ZDI states, “The country moved to level 4, this saw the closure of schools and tertiary institutions, ban in public gatherings, rationalizing of personnel and hours of operation in various sectors and adoption of a 6 pm curfew. On the 6 pm curfew, the cities of Harare and Bulawayo are experiencing congestion in roads leading to the central business centers; this has seen long queues at ZUPCO bus terminuses with no evidence of social distancing while experiencing pressure at illegal mushika-shikas terminuses.

“These have become spreaders of the COVID- 19 virus. The shortage of public transport in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare has been threatening to derail efforts to contain the COVID- 19 pandemic, as commuters are hardly practicing any social distancing while in queues for buses,” said ZDI. 

Government has opened a number of COVID- 19 vaccination centers across the country, as the numbers of citizens wishing to be vaccinated have ballooned following the rise of COVID- 19 positive cases an aspect that has raised fear in citizens; hence, the drive to get vaccinated.

ZDI notes that citizens are experiencing long vaccination queues, with some sleeping at vaccination centers and later denied vaccination access, thereby, creating productive conditions for vices such as corruption – creating irregularities at vaccination centers.

“This demotivates citizens to vaccinate or even worse as it promotes corruption. Participants in Zimbabwe Democracy Institute WhatsApp groups mentioned that some citizens are going to the extent of paying $20 to $30 in order to be vaccinated at local clinics

“They added that these handouts were given to nurses or other health workers so as to avoid queuing. This also speaks to lack of motivation and poor salaries on the side of health professionals.”

Employers

The ngo notes that according to its survey, citizens expressed concern over the politics of mandatory vaccination.

“Citizens in Zimbabwe noted with concern that the vaccination program should be voluntary, no worker should be forced to be vaccinated. “Government-owned entities such as TelOne have made vaccination mandatory by sending unvaccinated workers on leave.

“Other companies have also responded by sending their unvaccinated workers on leave. Mandatory vaccine vaccination is most likely to lead to dishonesty and corruption. In the past months, the government has been dealing with faked covid-19 testing certificates. This was evidence that mandatory politics do not work in Zimbabwe and the same might be done with vaccination cards.”

ZDI implored the government to ensure the availability of adequate and quality COVID- 19 vaccines to enable every willing citizen to be vaccinated inline with its constitutional mandate of guaranteeing every citizen access to basic health care services; decentralise the accessibility of vaccines, while there is an urgent need to employ more health professionals so as to decongest the current long queues.

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