The continued prevalence of irregularities in the fight against Covid-19 in Zimbabwe mirrors the despicable conditions in the country’s public healthcare delivery system. Corruption in the pandemic’s humanitarian aid continues to increase and its perpetrators are never prosecuted. Following the commencement of the National Roll out and Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP), there have been clear cases of vaccine discrimination whereby children of high-ranking politicians have gained access to the Sinopharm vaccine before high-risk front line workers could get it. There have been unprecedented contradictions in vaccine information dissemination by the government. This has undermined transparency and accountability in the manner in which the authorities are making use of aid from development partners and purchasing the vaccine from the manufacturers.
Access to health care is one of the fundamental rights that every citizen of Zimbabwe is entitled to. This right is clearly provided for in local, regional and international statutes. Section 76 (1) of Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that “every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access to basic health-care services, including reproductive health-care services”. After almost a year following the spiral spread of COVID-19 and subsequent series of national lockdowns, the country is in a midst of administering the pandemic vaccines to front line workers. However, the government had not been transparent and accountable in developing the vaccine roll out plan.
Discrimination in the vaccination programme
The government made it clear that phase 1 of Covid-19 vaccination targeted high risk front line workers who are comprised of health workers and the security sector personnel as further elucidated here. However in early March 2021, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa’s two sons went on social media and posted their pictures whilst receiving Sinopharm. This was clearly a sign of nepotism whereby high-ranking‘non-essential’ individuals lined up their families to receive vaccination at the expense of essential and high risk front line workers.
Zimbabwe’s response to Covid-19 has been constrained by the decay of the political factor, thus corruption, misinformation, policy inconsistencies and nepotism have emerged as its worrying scent. This explains the incessant collapse of the country’s public health delivery system. The government has been caught in circuses, disseminating contradicting announcements regarding the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines from China. This shows how deep the political decay can go.
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Source: Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI)