Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) welcomes the recent pronouncement by Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube (on February 3, 2021) that the government will prioritize the elderly and vulnerable citizens in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
On January 26, 2021, we condemned the government’s plan to prioritize frontline workers, ministers, Members of Parliament, the security sector and senior government officials while leaving out vulnerable citizens, the majority of whom cannot afford health care.
This followed an announcement on January 25, 2021, by the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Robert Mudyiradima that the government was failing to procure enough Covid-19 vaccines.
We commend the move by the government to include vulnerable citizens in the vaccination programme but we however remain sceptical about the classification of vulnerable citizens by the government.
Our argument stems from the fact the Covid-19 pandemic, which has so far claimed more than 1 200 lives, has largely affected ordinary Zimbabweans; most of whom are living far below the Poverty Datum Line and cannot afford medical care.
The harsh economic conditions currently obtaining in Zimbabwe have reduced almost 90 percent of the population to vulnerable citizens who cannot afford health care.
Government employees continue to live far below the Poverty Datum Line and affording the Covid-19 vaccination, which will cost between $2.50-$7.50 per jab will be an uphill task for most families.
However, the Coalition would like to implore the government to honour its obligation to provide health care services to citizens as set out under Section 76 of the Zimbabwean constitution.
Therefore, the suggestions by the Finance Minister that some citizens will have to pay for the vaccines should be dismissed with contempt and characterised as irreparably foolish.
Prescribing that private citizen will pay for the vaccination amounts to sidelining a huge chunk of the population from accessing the vaccination.
This capitalist motive must not override the long-overdue need to save lives. Vaccinations should be freely available to all the people who need it irrespective of income.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been largely informalized and with the current lockdown restrictions, most informal traders have been struggling to make ends meet while workers’ salaries are way below the Poverty Datum Line hence the repeated calls for a living wage.
Under the current circumstances, it remains the obligation of the government to relentlessly play an important and central role in ensuring that all citizens who need vaccines have access to the Covid-19 vaccination.