BY TATENDA CHITAGU
Civil servants who have not been vaccinated for unjustifiable reasons, today face an uncertain future with government insisting they should not report for duty because they may infect those who have been vaccinated.
Government last month gave October 15 as the deadline for all its workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Under Statutory Instrument (SI) 234 gazetted on September 17, unvaccinated civil servants will be fired from work and their salaries frozen.
Asked how many civil servants have complied with the order, Agnes Mahomva, the chief co-ordinator of COVID-19 response in the Office of the President and Cabinet, yesterday said she was yet to get the figures.
“I don’t know how many have been vaccinated or not, the relevant ministries will tell us tomorrow (today) to see those who would have reported for work and those who haven’t,” Mahomva said on the sidelines of a science cafe organised by the Health Communicators Forum and the Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions recently filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court challenging compulsory vaccination as companies force employees to be inoculated, but the High Court said the matter was not urgent. The case is still pending.
Mahomva, however, defended compulsory vaccination of the civil servants, saying they were given ample time, adding that those not yet jabbed were unwilling to do so.
“The requirement (of having all civil servants to be vaccinated) was announced way back and people have been given ample time to make sure they get vaccinated,” she said.
“For those not yet vaccinated, it means they do not want to do so. This has nothing to do with barring people from work; the government wants people to come to work, but we have to protect others.
“It is really about public health and safety in the workplace. You also have to understand that there are exemptions for extenuating circumstances from the SI which are very reasonable.”
The move will likely be a litmus test for government, which is likely to clash with its restive 300 000 employees.
A majority of government workers were not yet vaccinated by the time of the gazetting of the SI.
However, the SI gives excuses to those who have convincing reasons.
Those not vaccinated, according to the SI, should produce COVID-19 test results, which will be expensive and not practical since the tests expire after 72 hours. Tests range from US$30-$40.
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