PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has described Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 vaccination programme a success and an envy that some world leaders are begging him to come to the country and get inoculated locally.
Zimbabwe launched its vaccination programme in February and over 150 000 people have benefitted from the programme although at start there was some resistance among the population.
However, Mnangagwa, told state media journalists at the State House Saturday, the programme had now proved to be a success and envy of other countries and organisations from outside Zimbabwe who were appealing for their leaders to travel to the country and get vaccinated.
“I have been approached by several countries as well as organisations and individuals wanting to send their leaders to Zimbabwe to be vaccinated here because they think that we are doing well,” Mnangagwa said.
“But I am saying that for all Zimbabweans whoever they are, local or in the diaspora, if they come here they will receive the vaccine for free, but anybody else if they come here they will receive the vaccine at a cost.”
It was not clear how much the foreigners would have to pay.
Most of the doses being used to vaccinate the locals in Zimbabwe were donated by China.
Mnangagwa said he deliberately chose not to be vaccinated when the first batch of vaccines arrived from China because he wanted to fly to the resort city of Victoria Falls to give reassure to residents there that the drug was safe.
“We chose Victoria Falls because we felt that Victoria Falls is our tourist destination totally important to Zimbabwe and it is necessary that we achieved herd immunity there,” he said.
“So I avoided to get vaccinated when the first consignment came and I had my Vice President (Constantino Chiwenga) take it because the plans were that I should do it in Victoria Falls to demonstrate to the people of Victoria Falls to come forward and be vaccinated and achieve herd immunity so that tourists coming to Victoria Falls know that the entire population of 50 00 people will be vaccinated and when I informed my colleagues, the principals of political parties, they accepted to come”
In Victoria Falls, Mnangagwa was accompanied by Chiwenga, government ministers, MDC-T president Douglas Mwonzora, 22 political leaders and some church leaders.
“That was the most beautiful thing, this is what should happen on a daily basis. I had leaders from the political parties who agreed to accompany me to Victoria Falls,” he added.
“So when I was there people were gathered and I said I know as you are gathered there not all of you support Zanu PF. Here are leaders of political parties. If your leader is not here it’s not my fault.”
The leader of the main opposition party MDC Alliance, Nelson Chamisa did not attend the Victoria Falls junket.
“I think that people appreciated it because as the vaccination teams were going round there was no discrimination in terms of political affiliation and I said the virus has no political affiliation. It has affiliation with human beings so as long as you are human it will attack you, it doesn’t matter which political party you belong to or church, it will affect you,” said Mnangagwa.
In Saturday’s interview, Mnangagwa warned Zimbabweans not to gather to celebrate the impending 41st independence anniversary on April 18.
He urged Zimbabwe to observe the Covid-19 restrictions which are against group gatherings and unnecessary movement.
In the past seven days, Zimbabwe has seen a spike in infections, with 11 deaths and 236 cases, the highest such figures in six weeks. At least 15 schools countrywide had some of their students and teachers testing Covid-19 positive last week.
“Whereas I would love to see our population, our people revelling day and night celebrating this freedom, this independence which gives our people dignity and self-determination, but because of the Covid-19 conditions I appeal to our people to restrain from massive gatherings.
“Let them observe the measures we have put in place. For instance, just now as a result of this Easter that has passed again there is a spike going on now.-New Zimbabwe