The Public Service Commission (PSC) has directed that all civil servants get vaccinated as the private sector lobbies for compulsory Covid-19 vaccination to save lives and boost economic productivity.
In an internal circular last week, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) directed all employees to get vaccinated or not report for duty next month.
Employees from leading retail supermarkets told Chronicle that they have been instructed to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.
Job seekers in the public transport sector have also said they now have to present Covid-19 vaccination certificates if they are to be recruited.
Government has embarked on mass vaccination for all eligible adults, and this comes at a time when countries that have achieved herd immunity through vaccination have started to open up their economies.
These countries have since made optional, the previously mandatory wearing of face masks while social gatherings are no longer restricted.
In an internal circular to permanent secretaries of ministries and heads of parastatals dated July 19, PSC secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe said all civil servants are considered frontline workers and should get vaccinated.
“All civil servants are considered to be frontline workers as indicated by the health authorities. All heads of ministries are, therefore, directed to ensure that all civil servants under their jurisdiction are vaccinated,” said Ambassador Wutawunashe.
He said unvaccinated employees will no longer be allowed to board PSC buses.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu commended the PSC for taking a bold step, saying the decision was made in the interest of public health and protecting employees.
“The question is, are people safer when they are vaccinated or not? Science is now proving that those who are vaccinated – and according to the efficacy levels – are likely to survive more than die. So, the choices that we are making in the interest of public health are important,” said Dr Ndlovu.
He said the decision will in the long run protect employees from the adverse effects of contracting Covid-19, although this does not mean they will not be infected in case they are exposed to the deadly virus.
“In the interest of public health that position must be supported by all progressive Zimbabweans. That decision informed by scientific research is a decision that is taken in the interest of Zimbabweans. Therefore, let’s support it and ensure that everybody must get activated to vaccinate,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Mr Denford Mutashu said making vaccination mandatory will prevent economic disruptions.
He encouraged more business entities to compel their employees to be vaccinated.
“The CZR supports mandatory vaccination initiatives adopted by many companies in Zimbabwe as a way of acceleration towards attainment of a herd immunity as the third wave surges. More workers will be vaccinated and Government will not be compelled to shut down the economy completely as Covid-19 cases and deaths will be reduced. Business should take leadership of the vaccination drive across the economy and reduce the spread of the virus,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries vice-president Mr Joseph Gunda said in light of how first world countries are adjusting, mandatory vaccination might be the best option.
“We see what is happening in other countries where this thing started. For example, the United Kingdom, they have opened up from the 19th (of July). It’s all systems go for them, all courtesy of vaccination. Even at the recent Euro football championships, we saw crowds, 60 000 people were in Wembley, no social distance, no masks and where is that confidence coming from? In my perspective, it is coming from the achieving of herd immunity which is proof that vaccinations are working,” said Mr Gunda.
“I know it’s not compulsory, it’s up to each individual but it makes sense when you look at statistics of what is happening. We don’t seem to have a way out and the way out is vaccination. It will boost us as an industry.
“We will definitely have all our employees back at work, it will boost productivity and within a couple of months we may be able to go back to normal.”
However, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general Mr Japhet Moyo said making vaccination mandatory should be a position that is implemented after it is agreed at national level through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).
TNF brings together Government, industry and labour under one roof to discuss any relevant matter.
“Unfortunately, at the moment at national level, we have not engaged in that conversation. We had hoped that this issue would find its way at the TNF but as a labour body, I’m aware of the campaigns that have been done by other federations.
“For instance, in South Africa, Cosatu has made it clear that they expect the citizens to be vaccinated, it is because of the conversations that they had with social partners. There is an agreement at national level that let’s get everyone vaccinated,” said Mr Moyo.