Civil servants who defied government’s order to be vaccinated against COVID-19 should not report for duty starting Monday, their employer said yesterday.
The civil servants will also be denied their salaries and allowances.
Though it could not be immediately established how many civil servants will be affected by the order, there are fears that thousands have not been vaccinated due to logistical challenges, religion and other factors.
Government, through a gazette of September 17, gave its workers until yesterday to get jabbed, failure which will result in them being barred from work, forfeiting their salaries and allowances.
COVID-19 chief co-ordinator in the President’s Office, Agnes Mahomva, said no unvaccinated civil servants would be allowed at work starting Monday until they get their doses.
She said the move was not meant to punish, but to protect the general public.
“Everybody is following Statutory Instrument 234 of 2021 and legally, that is what is binding everyone. So, whether there are any other decisions that come later but for now, everybody is bound by the law,” Mahomva said.
“People might appeal, talk about this and so on but within the timelines of the law, that is what is on the ground now. It’s like saying someone should have a licence, but have someone saying he or she is appealing not to have one.
“As long as that law is there, it is the one speaking to what is on the ground. We just need to abide by the law and if the people haven’t, they stay home according to the law and if something changes, it will be communicated as usual.
“It is really genuinely trying to say, look, you have to be protected, not to say, we want people not to work as punishment. Government is taking health as a priority.”
Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said the civil servants who refuse to be vaccinated would be subjected to disciplinary action.
“D-Day for civil servants (as) today is the deadline for civil servants to get vaccinated or be barred from the workplace and not get paid while so barred,” Mangwana said.
“Those who refuse to be fully vaccinated shall be subject to disciplinary action for refusing to obey a lawful instruction,” he added.
But civil servants described the move as grossly unfair.
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions secretary-general David Dzatsunga described the move as victimisation.
“When it comes to workers, it should be a product of dialogue. Let us sit down and agree on how this can be administered so that we don’t have victimisation,” he said.
“You cannot just make pronouncements that affect people without involving them. You cannot use a counterproductive command approach on such issues. It can have a disruptive effect and is clear victimisation.”
Last month, government said it would force unvaccinated civil servants and teachers to resign in a bid to ramp up the uptake of COVID-19 jabs.
Meanwhile, Mahomva told a Science Café in Harare that Zimbabwe’s vaccination programme has been marred by setbacks despite being viewed as one of the best in Africa.
She said the challenges were mainly technical with human resources leading the toll.
“The vaccination programme has been doing much better but it has its own challenges, we will never lie about it. We have challenges with human resources,” she said.
There has been widespread criticism of the programme which started in February this year as a control measure to the deadly global pandemic that has been ravaging the world since December 2019.
“In terms of our resources, we said we need to look at financing mechanisms that are innovative. We had budgeted for US$100 million but we have used more than that. I’m glad to say we have used more than US$127 million and we did wait on donors, though we did some paperwork for that,” she said.
More than 2,4 million people are fully vaccinated against a set target of 10 million.