“Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; Neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices,To argue over them and then the opportunity to choose.” C. Wright Mills
The government of Zimbabwe recently announced through the Public Service Commission and the ministry of information the policy of mandatory Vaccination through the Public Health Amendment Order, 2021 number 35, where it states that; a-every member of the public service shall be fully vaccinated and any member – ; i- not so vaccinated shall be barred from the workplace after 15th of October 2021, and not be paid while he or she is so barred: ii- who refuses to be fully vaccinated shall be subject to disciplinary proceedings on the basis that he or she failed to obey a lawful instruction.The statutory Instrument mentioned above is the major reason why the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has come up with the 8th of October as the special day for an EDUPROTEST campaign, the significance of the 8th of October will be defined in the content within the bulletin.
ARTUZ encourages all it’s members and the citizens at large to get vaccinated and collectively eradicate the threat posed by Covid19 however it is the manner in which our governing authorities have chosen to implement Vaccination that has created a bone of contention especially in the public service where they have chosen to flagrantly violate the law by forcing people against their will to get vaccinated and within the same vein the government has also chosen to violate labour rights of civil servants when no legal framework compels civil servants to vaccinate against their will. Pronouncements of mandatory vaccination no matter the reasons behind them are a product of autocracy and self-service by the elite and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has sought to defy such an act and compel the government to reverse this diabolic and retrogressive policy
The significance of 8 October
People might be wondering why 08 October when we have between now and 15 October to which the government marked as the due date for vaccination, annually and globally teachers commemorate World Teachers Day on 05 October. This years’ commemorations are under the theme “ Teachers at the heart of education recovery,” then ten days after commemorating World Teachers Day the government of Zimbabwe will be firing all unvaccinated teachers, this is a big threat to the recovery agenda of education especially if one is to take into perspective the level of rot in the education sector in Zimbabwe marred by years of gross mismanagement, lack of priority, corruption and now the disturbance brought on by Covid19.
08 October will be a Friday, a day we will officially commemorate World Teachers Day in Zimbabwe, we will commemorate educating citizens on vaccination and further resisting mandatory vaccination. #SaveOurEducationZW
ARTUZ on 27 September 2021 held an online discussion that had presentations being given by Doctor Norman Matara who gave a presentation under the theme,’ Rationale of Vaccination: Medical Perspective.’ And ZCTU President Cde Peter Mutasa who gave a presentation under the theme,’ Mandatory Vaccination and workers Rights: Way forward for workers.’ Below is a summation of the key pointers of their Presentations
Dr. Norman Matara – Medical perspective
● The vaccine does not stay in your body, it stimulates your immune system.
● The vaccine doesn’t hurt people since it is cleared out of the body after six weeks.
● People should get the vaccine on voluntary basis it should not be mandatory.
● Vaccines are not new they have been around since the 17th century
● Vaccines are a type of medicine that train your body to prevent infection, severe diseases and death
● They are a special type of medicine because instead of treating diseases they prevent diseases
● The main ingredient in a vaccine is water which constitutes about 80% of the vaccine is water, then the active ingredient which is mainly a weakened part of the infectious agent you will be vaccinating against then stabilizers which are already there in the body.
● We have to trust vaccines because they have managed to eradicate dangerous diseases in the past.
● The vaccine approval process takes 15yrs but the covid19 virus was approved in less than a year because of a plethora of reasons including funding, co-operation of giant manufacturing companies, volunteers
● The second dose administered is for further boosting immunity
● Side effects to be expected after taking the vaccine include pain, headaches, muscle aches, fever and chills
● These side effects show that the vaccine is working and they have to last for something like 3 days.
● People with BP, HIV and diabetes or any terminal diseases can still take the vaccine and they are the ones who are more prone to infection
President Peter Mutasa (ZCTU) – Mandatory vaccination and workers’rights
● ZCTU is not anti-vaccine but we are clearly against compulsory vaccination because of a number of reasons: the government has a policy of voluntary vaccination
● Zimbabwe must be a constitutional democracy and the constitutions is the supreme law of the land so we are standing on the point of defending constitutionalism.
● Rights are not absolute but they can only be limited through a law of general application. As it stands the government hasn’t promulgated a law of general application.
● ZCTU dragged government to High court but the matter was put on the normal roll as the court said it was not urgent.
● The establishment of an SI for public sector workers should be validated, there is need for more scientific knowledge on whether unvaccinated workers spread the virus more than those that are vaccinated
● Workers should not be discriminated based on myths and based on half- baked scientific knowledge.
● In Africa we have no capacity to vaccinate everyone therefore it is not reasonable to prevent unvaccinated people from getting access to public services yet the government has no capacity to vaccinate everyone.
● Any discrimination should be reasonable.
● The SI is not clear and the government did not consult widely.
● The SA government did proper consultations and the Zimbabwean government should have done the same.
● The rights of the workers should be respected.
● Workers should unite and challenge the government
ARTUZ is on ground organizing for #8October a day we call upon government to #ChooseToChoose.