412 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 14 May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 38 535 after 14 new cases were reported, all are local cases. The highest case tally was recorded in Matebeleland North which had 16 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 13th of May 2021 were 17 hospitalised cases, 0 asymptomatic case, 11 mild to moderate cases, 4 severe cases and 2 cases Intensive Care Units. We highlight gaps in provinces that did not report hospitalisation rates namely Midlands, Matebeleland South Matebeleland North, Mashonaland West, and Wilkins, St Anne’s and Arundel hospitals in Harare. Active cases go up to 645. The total number of recoveries went up to 36 308 increasing by 22 recoveries. The recovery rate drops marginally down to 94.2%. A total of 11 585 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 571 460. A total of 11 636 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 203 781. The death toll goes up to 1 582 after no new deaths were recorded.
Critical emerging issue
Domestic Vaccine Equity and The Rights of Workers
We fully acknowledge and support the critical relationship and engagements between the Government and the private sector in escalating the provision of vaccines. We commend further various efforts meant to expedite access to vaccines. We however continue to spotlight the risks of privatisation of vaccines. Vaccines are a critical essential lifesaving intervention which must be provided to all.
- We urge Government to recall that vaccine equity is therefore not only a matter of equitable access between States but also among citizens within a country, hence the need to ensure equitable public access.
Further, we continue to critique the pressure that workers in both the public service and the private sector are facing, viewed as “soft pressure” to get vaccinated in a bid to secure their work status. We raise concerns of reports of workers who have been advised that there are free to choose to be vaccinated or not, but essentially their working status or roles require them to take up the vaccine.
- We therefore highlight that while citizens are indeed to be encouraged to get vaccinated, a “Jabs for Jobs” policy is completely untenable.
- We remind both the Government and Private sector, that encouragement to get vaccinated goes beyond simply tackling the scourge of fake news, but also includes directly responding to issues pertaining to the vaccine mix available for citizens to select, and the quality of the post vaccination monitoring and care available.
Transparency and Accountability in COVID-19 Financing and Vaccines Procurement
We highlight once more, serious matters arising from reports indicating the side-lining of Parliament and the violation of the Constitution on provisions for debt in Zimbabwe in the context of COVID-19 vaccine sourcing. We note the reports indicating that despite the recurring affirmations by the Government, of the availability of USD$100 million national budget surplus, the Government continues to incur debt to support the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines from China. We are concerned with reports indicating that Government has engaged with Afrexibank without prior engagement of Parliament and has now secured a USD$50 million loan to support COVID-19 Vaccine procurement. This action comes against the disclosure by Treasury, in March 2021 to Parliament that without prior engagement of Parliament, Government had secured a USD$10million loan to support vaccines procurement with the Arab Economic bank for USD10million to respond to COVID.
Whilst we are fully aware that the COVID-19 response has been financed by a mix of direct government budgetary expenditure, donations from development partners, the private sector and communities, we remain concerned by the weak accountability measures provided. We have repeatedly raised discrepancies in the public domain regarding the funding by Treasury to COVID-19 research, response and vaccines. We remain alarmed that despite the best efforts of individual Members of Parliament and some Committee of Parliament, to seek clarifications on Treasury funds, the response remains grossly inadequate and dismal. We therefore urge publicization of the following:
- A comprehensive public accounting of the state funding support towards the COVID19 Pandemic
- A complete accounting for the support provided by international partners.
- A thorough report on the expenditure of the contribution by the private sector, communities and individuals
- We call for the President of Zimbabwe to institute a Commission of Enquiry into COVID-19 Funds.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)