BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa will today lead the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Victoria Falls with analysts yesterday saying the move was likely to motivate ordinary Zimbabweans to get vaccinated against the highly infectious disease.
He is expected to be inoculated at an event which will be attended by members of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), a grouping of fringe opposition political parties that lost the 2018 elections, in the resort town.
As of yesterday, 43 294 people had been inoculated, with the government targeting 10 million people to attain 60% herd immunity.
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Itai Rusike said: “It is very encouraging that Mnangagwa is now following the example that was set by Health and Child Care minister Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga who recently got the Sinopharm vaccine,” Rusike said.
“This is the kind of leadership that can assist in boosting the public trust and confidence in the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.”
Rusike said Mnangagwa’s vaccination should be accompanied by a sustained health education, information dissemination and awareness campaigns to address the existing myths on COVID-19 vaccines.
Human Rights Watch Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga said: “Mnangagwa has been sending mixed signals, at one time threatening the public that those who do not get vaccinated will be denied access to jobs and public services. His Victoria Falls public vaccination may help increase public trust, but it is more important for him to deliver consistent messages and not use threats which undermine the same trust.”
Citizens who spoke to NewsDay, also said it was encouraging that the President would be getting vaccinated publicly to dispel misinformation on the vaccines, which led to low uptake.
“If the President gets vaccinated, I am sure that the vaccine is safe,” Memory Musiya of Mbare in Harare said.
“Surely the President can’t be exposed to a harmful drug. Therefore, all members of the public eligible for the vaccination should get their jabs to curb COVID-19 deaths,” another Mbare resident, Cynthia Choto said.
- Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya