Members of Parliament from across the political divide on Wednesday challenged the government’s recent decision to ban unvaccinated civil servants from reporting for duty.
The legislators described the move as an infringement on citizens’ rights, but Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira representing the government defended the Cabinet’s decision arguing “extra-ordinary times require suspension of the Constitution”.
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The government on Tuesday announced that its workers, who are not yet vaccinated, will no longer be allowed to report for duty.
The announcement came a week after Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi ordered civil servants who did not want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to resign.
Parliament has also ordered unvaccinated lawmakers to stay at home, an order that triggered anger among the legislators who described the prohibition order as an affront to democracy.
Mutare West MP Teedzayi Muchimwe (ZANU PF), who is a member of the Johanne Marange apostolic sect, said the directive was unfair to him and others who do not believe in vaccination. Said Muchimwe:
Is it now mandatory that the COVID-19 vaccination is now compulsory in view of the fact that there are other entities that do not indulge in medication?
… COVID-19, to me and the Johanne Marange apostolic sect, is just a drop in the sea, we are not even affected.
Since this COVID-19 started, we have been kissing each other and shaking hands, we are not even affected by COVID-19. Why deny us entry into Parliament?
Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa (MDC Alliance) described the ban as a gross violation of citizens’ rights. He said:
By putting restrictions on those unvaccinated or those that are unvaccinated because of religion or other views, the government is in a way setting the wrong precedence for it is actually encroaching into the rights of individuals?
Murwira responded by saying that there were limits to people’s constitutional rights, hence there was no turning back on the order. Murwira said:
It is, therefore, very important and I want to thank you Hon Speaker for not allowing any member who is not vaccinated to come to this House physically.
So to clarify the issue, it is very important that the people who are not vaccinated stay where they are while those ones who are vaccinated can interact while social distancing.