Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter
Parents without adequate school fees are free to approach school authorities with payment plans, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.
She said Government’s decision to have children between the age of 14 and 17 years vaccinated did not mean that the programme was compulsory.
Minister Mutsvangwa, who is also Leader of Government Business in the Senate, said this while responding to questions during the Question and Answer session yesterday.
She said Government’s decision to have schools opened starting next week was made after considering that learners have not been going to school for a long time.
Covid-19, said Minister Mutsvangwa, had made planning with certainty difficult given that there have been successive three waves of the pandemic.
Midlands Senator Morgan Komichi (MDC-T) had expressed concern over what he felt was short notice given to parents to raise school fees.
“It is not easy to balance all the issues that ought to be put under consideration. If parents have no fees they can approach school authorities.
“I think all parents have been looking forward to see children going back to school. Covid-19 came unexpectedly and we have had three waves, no one wants people to suffer or fail to travel,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Government has directed that examination classes begin face-to-face lessons next Monday while other learners would resume a week later.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Covid-19 had resulted in Government trying to balance between the desire to save lives and that of allowing economic activities.
“Our people are clamouring for vaccination, which has not been the case before. We appreciate that children have not been going to school.
“We have been doing a lot of work to make sure that we prepare. The dates have been (announced) after a careful consideration,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said social media reports suggesting that pupils should first be vaccinated before attending lessons were not true, hence the weekly post-Cabinet briefings so that people can validate.
“There is no Government policy to have children vaccinated before going to school,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
However, she said the decision to have children vaccinated was taken after a careful scientific study.
Meanwhile, the Senate commended Minister Mutsvangwa for her religious attendance of Parliament to field questions from backbenchers.
Earlier on there had been concern on the failure by some ministers and their deputies to attend Senate.
Senate President Mabel Chinomona said while Senate took exception at the failure to attend by some ministers they were encouraged by Minister Mutsvangwa’s attendance.
But she implored Minister Mutsvangwa to convey the Senate’s displeasure to the President on the successive failure by some ministers to attend the Question and Answer session.
Responding to another question, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister David Musabayana said Government’s engagement and re-engagement efforts were bearing fruit.
He said the United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols, who have been hostile to Zimbabwe, has started to soften up and now encouraging investors from Washington to invest in Harare.
“The writing is now all over the wall; it’s high time we celebrate but it’s a process,” said Deputy Minister Musabayana.