90 per cent of civil servants have been vaccinated against COVID-19, with some of those not vaccinated having been discouraged from taking the jab by their doctors due to underlying conditions.
This was said by Public Service Commission (PSC) Permanent Secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe during an interview with State media after the Cabinet on Tuesday resolved that unvaccinated civil servants should not report for duty. Said Wutawunashe:
We are checking ministry by ministry because it was a continuous exercise and we are getting feedback that reflects statistics around 90 per cent.
Just keep in mind that in some cases it was a matter of people actually having certain underlying conditions and their doctors discouraging them from being vaccinated.
Those who have been advised by doctors not to be vaccinated cannot be treated as people who have willfully refused to be vaccinated. There will be rationality and the exceptions will be few.
Most civil servants have been vaccinated because there were deliberate programmes on the part of Government ministries and departments to encourage their staff to be vaccinated.
Wutawunashe said the Cabinet decision was made to protect employees as it is worrying to lose staff to COVID-19. He said:
Civil servants are the ones who provide services to the public and as such cannot be expected to put the people’s lives at risk.
They are the ones who are supposed to drive Government’s Vision 2030. If civil servants are disabled from doing those things through COVID-19 then the national objectives and goals are subverted.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu backed the Government’s decision saying civil servants need to protect themselves and members of the public they serve.
Meanwhile, Apex council secretary-general David Dzatsunga said the government should have engaged the civil servants before taking the decision to bar them from reporting for duty. Dzatsunga said:
We agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is an issue and requires Government to take measures to contain its spread but we feel Government should have engaged workers before taking this drastic decision to bar the unvaccinated workers from reporting for duty.
We believe there is scope to sit down and agree on how best we can make this work for everybody.
Some Zimbabweans have continued to reject the jab on account of their religious beliefs while others are not convinced the vaccines are safe and will not have long-term side effects.