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» » » » Murky use of Covid-19 vaccine in Masvingo

David Masomere a Physical Education teacher at Ndarama High School receiving his first jab last month

TellZim Reporter

MASVINGO— Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme reminds one of a scene from the movie and novel Animal Farm where some animals have proven to be more equal than others.

The country has received Covid-19 vaccine donations from China to the tune of about 500 000 doses and have been administered in phases with the first phase catering for the frontline health workers and essential services.

The classification of people in the face of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic has birthed fertile grounds for corruption as the powerful have reportedly taken over the vaccination programme putting their relatives in front of the vaccination queue at the expense of the intended beneficiaries.

Zanu PF Masvingo provincial political commissar Jevias Masosota and Ndaramba High School Physical Education teacher David Masomere’s vaccination in the first phase raised eyebrows and a lot of questions since the two do not fall under the essential services and frontline workers bracket.

Masosota told TellZim News that he was a leader and an advocate of the vaccination programme hence could not convince people to get jabbed when he had not taken the vaccine.

“How can we tell people to get vaccinated when we have not taken the vaccine ourselves? We have to lead by example and that is what we have done.

“People have seen that Masosota is alive and well after receiving his jab then they would have confidence in the vaccine,” said Masosota.

Masomere also shared the same view saying he was a community leader who plays a critical role to make sure that people understand the need to get vaccinated so he should lead from the front.

“I took the jab to make sure that people see it was safe. There is no politics at all. If you see I have been doing Covid-19 and vaccines awareness programmes in town and people would ask the obvious question as to whether I was vaccinated or not.

“I cannot be going around talking about a jab which I have not taken,” said Masomere.

Masomere and Masosota were both vaccinated together with Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira and Zanu PF national political commissar Victor Matemadanda together with Masvingo’s police, prisons and military bosses.

Analyst and Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) media lecturer Dr Gift Gwindingwe said the issue can be looked at from two fronts where in the first instances some people are being used as pawns to try and coerce people into vaccination while on the other hand the limited Covid-19 doses create a fertile ground for corruption

“It is two folded really. The government is using some people as pawns to intricately coerce people into accepting vaccination without using the actual force.

“The truth is people are sceptical about the vaccine and what better way to demystify the whole process than using the very same people they interact with on daily basis.

“There are a lot of people who say they would only get vaccinated after they see that the ones who took the jab first have survived so this is what is being done, it’s a strategy,” said Dr Gwindingwe.

He said the government, on the other hand, has failed to instil public confidence in securing the vaccines arguing that the phased approach creates room for manipulation and corruption.

“The government has failed to secure enough jabs for its people. This is a pandemic that kills a lot of people and no one would want to see their relatives die.

“What then happens is that people will use their influence and connections to jump the queue because no one wants to be caught unvaccinated especially when the virus is said to be mutating and a deadly third wave being recorded in some countries.

“The people are panicking and what the government should have done was to procure adequate doses for the target population and make sure that the vaccines are being administered at the lowest levels of the community.

“The challenge should be manpower to administer the doses not the doses themselves. If there is this shortage then survival instinct will automatically kick in,” said Dr Gwindingwe.

Another analyst Dr Last Alfandika who is also GZU media lecturer said corruption has taken over the vaccination programme and people are taking advantage of the low vaccination uptake to pull their relatives and friends to the front of the queue.

“Corruption is not only when you benefit on material things but when you use your position or influence to benefit from services.

“This is what is happening with Covid-19 vaccines. We are now in the second phase of the vaccination rollout programme and there are people who have already benefitted yet they do not fall under the first or second classification.

“The whole system is very porous and the well-connected are just taking advantage of the broken system to have their relatives take the jab.

“They may argue that the vaccination uptake is low but that does not justify corruption,” said Dr Alfandika.

He said the vaccination process itself was frustrating and not user friendly hence the reason why people were not getting jabbed.

“The vaccination itself is slow and that is the biggest reason why we are recording very low numbers. How can you centralise the process to clinics and hospitals?

“That is a bottle neck system to dissuade people from receiving the jab. The vaccine must go to the people and not the other way round.

“How do you justify giving Masvingo province enough doses for only 11 000 people when we have over a million people? Classification of people in the face of this deadly pandemic is in every sense wrong,” said Dr Alfandika.

Dr Alfandika said he was willing to get vaccinated but he can only do so when the system gets decentralised.

“I am prepared to take my jab but the problem is that it is not easily accessible. You cannot ask me to go to the hospital to get vaccinated when there are other pressing things to attend to. You do not require sophisticated machines to get vaccinated so I should be able to get the service right on my door step,” said Dr Alfandika.

A 27-year-old Rujeko resident Cainos Sengayi told TellZim News that he was worried about the way the vaccination programme was being conducted saying those without connections would just have to wait and hope that the pandemic does not get to them first before the vaccine.

“It is quite unfortunate that some animals are more equal than others. Those without connections like ourselves and millions others would just have to wait until the chosen ones get their share.

“It was only a matter of time before the whole programme was hijacked by the rich and powerful elite. In the end, it is us the poor who will suffer,” said Sengayi.

The deputy minister of Finance Clemence Chiduwa recently told a Zanu PF Masvingo Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting that the government has enough money to secure doses to attain head immunity.

To attain head immunity, the government intends to vaccinate about 10 million people in the country.

Masvingo Provincial Medical Director (PMD) Dr Amadeous Shamhu recently told a Zanu PF PCC meeting that they have so far managed to vaccinate a total of 3 600 frontline health workers out of a total of 6 000 in the province during the first phase.

Statistics regarding the total number of people who have received the jab in Masvingo province have remained shrouded in mystery with sources saying the low uptake rate has triggered the secrecy.

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