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Zimbabwe'S President Emmerson Mnangagwa wears a protective face shield and facemask as he delivers a speech during the burial ceremony of Zimbabwe's agriculture minister Perrance Shiri at the National Heroes Acre on July 31 2020, in Harare. - Perrance Shiri, 65, a retired general who commanded an army unit accused of a notorious massacre in the 1980s, succumbed to coronavirus (COVID-19), the president said on July 30, 2020. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Editorials

Mnangagwa where is the vaccine plan?

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MANY countries across the world are vaccinating their citizens against Covid-19, with the incoming United States President Joe Biden announcing a massive plan to administer 100 million vaccines in 100 days.

Predictably, Zimbabwe is not among these organised countries. The government has not put on the table a coherent Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy.

Several weeks ago, The NewsHawks revealed that Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Health minister, was in discussions with Chinese authorities to acquire supplies of the Sinopharm vaccine which has been approved by countries including Serbia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

The Zimbabwean government never loses an opportunity to brag about its so-called close ties with the Communist Party of China. Well, the true state of relations between two nations can only be measured through pragmatic win-win actions on the ground and not just on the basis of hollow rhetoric.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa needs to be told that the imperatives of good governance, as lucidly enunciated in the national Constitution, enjoin his government to be transparent, accountable and responsive in the discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

Currently, public policy with regards the official stance on Covid-19 vaccination is not being clearly communicated. If there is no plan, Mnangagwa must just swallow his pride and own up. The poverty-stricken country is already fed by foreign donors, anyway.

Chiwenga’s statement last week was a squandered opportunity. Instead of expending his energies on the enforcement of a law-and-order approach, he should have spelt out concrete measures to address the twin challenges of a Covid-19 vaccination rollout plan and what is being done about shattered livelihoods.

Health professionals are perishing on the Covid-19 frontlines partly due to inadequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). This is criminal negligence by the government.

How many more nurses and doctors must Zimbabwe lose to this pandemic before the country’s leadership begins to show seriousness in tackling the coronavirus? By now, if we had a competent administration, we would not be talking of PPE but a swift vaccination programme for our heroic health professionals who are placing their lives on the line every time they venture into crumbling and grossly underfunded hospitals.

The African Union has reportedly acquired some 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the entire continent. That is a drop in the ocean, considering Africa’s population stands at a staggering 1.2 billion.
The vaccines do not come cheap, of course. By some informed estimates, they range between US$19 to US$37.

As usual, many countries in Africa seem to be holding out for free vaccines. Some of these nations are endowed with vast mineral resources. Where is the mineral wealth going?

It is a tragic indictment on the calibre of African leadership that such a continent, rich in natural and human resources, is always reduced to a charity case by inept, corrupt and selfish leaders.

Make no mistake, Covid-19 is indeed a global crisis; but in Africa it has been elevated to the level of catastrophe by incompetent leaders.

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