WHILE other countries have taken a clear stance in the COVID-19 fight by acquiring vaccines, the policy inconsistency and lack of comprehensive communication from government is worrying.
As it stands, there is no clear position on the vaccine roll-out plan except that the government wants the citizens and corporates, all hard-pressed amid the economic malaise, to fund the programme.
This level of lack of direction in the face of such a devastating pandemic is scary for the citizen and it will not end well.
Government clearly does not have a plan for the acquisition and rollout of vaccines but continues to display the usual arrogance towards benefactors.
While a begging bowl has been extended by the government through Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, we now hear that the United Kingdom’s offer of the Covax facility that would have seen three million people being vaccinated has been turned down.
No plausible reasons have been given by the government except claims that the offer that came through the UK ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson, after her meeting last year with Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, was “vacuous”.
Government officials claim it came with “conditions” but the United Kingdom insists Zimbabwe, like any other country, should take it or leave it.
Clearly, it is an opportunity we are going to miss in our efforts to acquire the much-needed vaccines for our people.
The cash-strapped regime has pleaded with well-wishers including the corporate world to donate towards the acquisition of vaccines.
What we don’t expect from the government at such a critical moment for Zimbabwe in dealing with the COVID-19 menace is a daily dosage of confusion.
What with the statement by Ncube that vaccines will not come for free before making a volte-face moments later.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chiwenga immediately assumed a fire-fighting mode declaring that the vaccines would be free to all citizens.
Covax is a global coalition led by the World Health Organisation, GAVI and CEPI which will roll out 1,3 billion doses to the 92 poorest countries in the world.
Zimbabwe is without doubt a poor country and qualifies to sign up, but what we understand now is it won’t take the initial allocation of 1,15 million doses set aside for her before July.
Questions remain whether the government will tap into the Covax facility.
In our view, government should swallow its pride and accept the donation with both hands for the sake of its vulnerable citizens.