BY MOSES MATENGA
THE United States yesterday said it was unfazed by the Zimbabwean government’s actions of undermining their assistance to fight the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and remained committed to assisting millions of its population.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member, Jim Risch, said Washington has been the largest provider of health and humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, totalling US$3,5 billion since independence in 1980, and would not be swayed by politicking.
“No matter how hard the Zimbabwe government tries to undermine our assistance, we remain committed to helping Zimbabweans fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” he posted on Twitter reacting to Harare’s position to reject a donation of Johnson and Johnson vaccines by the US.
Addressing journalists on the 25 million COVID-19 vaccines donation to the African Union, Gayle Smith, State Department co-ordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security and Akunna Cook, deputy assistant secretary of State for African Affairs, also reiterated the position that there was nothing political about the donations.
They said the donation was motivated by the desire to help Africa combat the ravaging virus.
“As the President (Joe Biden) said, we are doing this with no strings. We are not asking governments to take a position in our favour on the Security Council, to buy our goods, to do anything else, much as we have done with all of the other investments we have made in Africa’s progress on health,” Smith said.
“Our intent here is very clear. We want to see Africa defeat this pandemic. We want to see Africa be resilient and to thrive. So there are no strings attached, is, I think, the first and most important message that we can offer.”
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Cook said: “We have long been partners of Africa, and our assistance is really about being good partners to Africa. It’s not about coercion or influence. It’s really about wanting to make sure that our African partners are resilient and are able to have a strong and healthy future in this increasingly interdependent and interconnected world. Vaccines don’t — viruses don’t know borders. Right? And so it is clear to us that defeating this pandemic everywhere, including in Africa, is essential.
“On mistrust, I think it’s — we as the United States, we see ourselves in a leadership position. That is why we are sharing these vaccine doses that we have available, and we are trying to do it as quickly as possible.”
On Wednesday, government through presidential spokesperson George Charamba claimed the US was politicising the vaccine donations and had handed over half a million doses to the main opposition MDC Alliance for “political vaccination”.
The MDC Alliance and the US have rubbished the claims.
Zimbabwe is targeting at least 10 million vaccinations by year-end to achieve herd immunity and allow life to get back to normal.
Of the intended target, only 1 352 524 had received their first doses by Thursday, while only 664 587 had received their second jab.
Follow Moses on Twitter @mmatenga