435 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 6th of June 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 39 189 after 21 new cases were reported, 16 are local, 4 are returnees from South Africa and 1 from Zambia. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 8 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on the 5th of June 2021 were 64 hospitalised cases, 4 asymptomatic cases, 48 mild to moderate cases, 8 severe cases and 4 cases in Intensive Care Units. Active cases go down to 855. The total number of recoveries went up to 36 728 increasing by 30 recoveries. The recovery rate still remains at 94%. A total of 685 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 687 321. A total of 5 471 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 380 785. The death toll goes up to 1606 after 1 death was recorded.
Critical emerging issue
Turn Around on Vaccine-Mix?
We note the communication by the Government of Zimbabwe in regard to the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine from the African Union/AfriExim Bank support facility due to Zimbabwe in the August 2021 allocation. We note the rejection of the allocation by Government is due to the country’s cold chain management systems which are ready to take up such a vaccines as well as potential side effects of the vaccine.
This position comes on the back various contextual concerns such as the presence of the Indian variant in Zimbabwe, the winter season, an increase in COVID-19 infections, a death toll of over 1 600, the slow vaccine uptake in Zimbabwe, the shortage of vaccines and the lack of transparency on the state of vaccine procurement which Zimbabwe could ostensibly afford on the back of a $9 billion mid-year budget surplus.
The position of Government raises critical questions on the potential vaccine mix for Zimbabwe and the accountability required for the management of COVID-19 pandemic domestically. We highlight that it is crucial for the authorities to account for the delays in addressing an upgrade of the cold chain management systems when the indications of the need for such was present during Mid-2020 and countries were urged to note the potential need for such readiness.
Furthermore, there is need to account for the information regarding concerns on reactions to vaccines in the current mix available when there has been no proper post vaccine-monitoring that is easily available and accessible to vaccinated persons. The position then on the potential side effects of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine without full disclosure by the authorities affects the ability of the public to trust the information supporting the public positions taken
- We continue to call for Government to strengthen its anticipatory governance capacity in regard to operational and administrative readiness.
- We particularly call for accountability from Treasury directly, which has repeatedly assured citizens that the supplies of vaccines have been supported by both increased uptake of international debt and budget surpluses and monthly procurement to explain this discrepancy.
- We urge Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its mandate over the COVID-19 vaccine program.
Access to Information on COVID-19 Pandemic
We continue to highlight research reports by the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) on access to information by the media in the midst of the pandemic. The report reveals the experiences of the media practitioners during the pandemic in accessing information, effectiveness of Government communication and implications of various statutory Instruments. We highlight with concern, such difficulties which include officials unjustifiably withholding critical information, not eager to share details and in particular, the referral of journalists to several other offices in order to access information. This has driven the perceptions of secrecy in critical information regarding the pandemic. We note that this failure to adequately account and be fully transparent in regard to the vaccine availability has occurred when there are calls for full disclosure on the status of vaccine availability vaccine stock management and vaccine procurement.
We urge Government and stakeholders to adopt and sustain the principle of access to information in a manner that reflects the constitutional fundamental freedoms and values of Zimbabwe.
- We continue to call upon Government to adopt and maintain the highest quality levels of information dissemination and data sharing with the public.
- We amplify our calls for establishment of a Commission of Enquiry on the management of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2021 in Zimbabwe.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)