Elliot Ziwira-Senior Writer
Always exuding servant leadership qualities and giving a listening ear to citizens, President Mnangagwa continues endearing himself to Zimbabweans, this time by thanking them for heeding the call to get vaccinated against the deadly Covid-19.
The outbreak of the new coronavirus in 2019, left the world reeling from economic and social turmoil, as livelihoods were affected owing to loss of income and company closures.
With the world in a quandary, a new normal of lockdowns and health protocols to curb the spread of the disease were implemented.
Zimbabwe had not been spared of the highly contagious virus. However, due to the President’s hands-on approach to issues, discerning eye and the steward leadership that he personifies, the country had not been caught napping.
When other countries were still contemplating on which vaccines to use, the Government of Zimbabwe under President Mnangagwa’s leadership, already had a plan. Since the first reported case of the disease in the country in March 2020, the President has been relentless in his efforts to encourage Zimbabweans to adhere to lockdown regulations and desist from engaging in behaviour that would endanger others.
The servant leader in him remained unflinching as he emboldened his fellow countrymen to get vaccinated, and refrain from getting swayed by “political virologists” flaunting as scientists on social media platforms.
While political naysayers and their hangers-on were emphatically raising their tempo in watering down the vaccination campaign, or other positive development programmes that the Second Republic has undertaken for the common good of all citizens, the world has not been blind to Zimbabwe’s success story.
Endorsements have poured in from many countries and organisations across the world on Zimbabwe’s successful vaccination programme.
Numbers, indeed, do not lie.
As of August 30 this year, more than 2,5 million Zimbabweans had received the first dose of the vaccine, and over 1,6 million are fully vaccinated. Thirteen million doses of Covid-19 vaccine worth millions of dollars have been bought.
The Government remains committed to ensuring that all citizens are vaccinated, as there are adequate financial resources to buy all the required vaccines.
This is the reason the President, through a billboard message, saluted Zimbabweans for responding positively to the vaccination call by visiting the many vaccination centres across the country to get their first and second jabs.
Normalcy would soon return as herd immunity is certainly within reach.
“Fellow Zimbabweans, thank you for heeding the call to get vaccinated,” acknowledged the President, in his message on a billboard along Seke Road at Chinhamo filling station.
Indeed, “Together we are defeating the Covid-19 pandemic.”
To take the message to the people, eight more billboards will be erected in Harare, six in Bulawayo, many others in the country’s provinces, said Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services director of media services, Mr George Chisoko.
“The President’s gesture to thank Zimbabweans for embracing vaccination, portrays him as a leader who places importance on recognising the good deeds of the citizens,” Mr Chisoko said.
“Servant leadership, which the President personifies, is anchored on recognition, empowerment, stewardship, accountability and transparency, among others.”
He said these qualities, among many others, set the President apart from masquerades bent on criticising the Government “at every turn, for coming up with life-saving programmes for the people”.
As of Thursday, 4 449 Zimbabweans have died due to Covid-19, robbing not only their families of loved ones, but the country as a whole, through denting the human capital resource pool.
Although the vaccination programme started at a low-key, as some people doubted it, as is usually the case with everything new, waiting for others to get vaccinated first, the uptake has since increased.
“It is always the case with everything new as some people are innovators, and early adopters of behaviour, products or services,” Mr Chisoko said.
“The Diffusion of Innovation theory developed by Everett Rodgers in 1962 explains why there was resistance to vaccination in the early stages.”
According to Rodgers, “Adoption of a new idea, behaviour, or product does not happen simultaneously in a social system, rather it is a process whereby some people are more apt to adopt than others.’’
The intricate healthcare context that the world, including Zimbabwe, found itself grappling with owing to the global contagion, is explicable using facets of research and practice of diffusion of innovations, and not hearsay.
“The low numbers of people getting vaccinated in the early stages, thus did not come as a surprise given Rodgers’ model,” said Mr Chisoko.
With more people, including opinion leaders, getting vaccinated; the numbers surged, and continue increasing, which has seen vaccination centres countrywide overwhelmed as getting the jab is now the in-thing.
Getting vaccinated is good for all Zimbabweans as the pandemic has played havoc on citizens as a collective, which makes the President’s appreciation, typical of servant leadership, apt.
However, Zimbabweans should not drop their guard, as vaccination does not call for the freedom to disregard health protocols.
The President is on record urging citizens, including those who have been vaccinated, to always mask up, wash hands and practise social distancing. Taking advice from scientists, the Government has now extended vaccination against Covid-19 to the 14-17 age group.
True, a servant leader comes from his own people, as Peter informs in Acts 3v22-23: “For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”’