By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Zimbabwe) has implored the government to include journalists among the first priority groups listed for the Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme.
On Monday, Zimbabwe received the first consignment of 200 000 Covid-19 SinoPharm vaccine to fight the deadly coronavirus disease from the People’s Republic of China.
The donation was received by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles up as Health and Child Care Minister, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Zimbabwe will begin vaccinating against Covid-19 on Thursday, starting with health care frontliners, ports of entry employees and school teachers.
Misa Zimbabwe urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to prioritise media practitioners as they are frontliners working during Covid-19 related lockdown.
“Misa Zimbabwe calls upon the government to prioritise and also include journalists among the first priority groups listed for the Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme,” Misa Zimbabwe said in a statement.
“Our request is informed by the fact that the media was declared an essential service in terms of Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 regulations.”
The statement added that: “Journalists, together with other essential priority groups, are frontline workers that need to be prioritised as well given the critical role they play in keeping the nation informed on developments and measures the government is taking to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In any case, the media, by virtue of its fundamental and normative role of informing and educating, is key to the coverage of the immunisation rollout.
“The media can, therefore, not be left out for later consideration as journalists will be reporting from the frontline as the country rolls out immunisation of the essential groups identified to receive the first jabs.
“The government can work closely with the Zimbabwe Media Commission, media houses and media representative organisations on how best to implement the immunisation for journalists as they are a critical component of the sectors and groups that have been declared essential services.
“Journalists are frontline workers that risk their lives as they collect and disseminate information hence the need to prioritise their health and safety.
“Lessons can be drawn from Zambia, which through its Ministry of Health, recently announced that journalists would be among the first recipients of the Covid-19 vaccines when they arrive in that country.”
Yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said there was a 61% dominance of the new South African variant of the Covid-19 virus which spreads faster and has a higher fatality rate.
On Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the national lockdown by a further two weeks, ordering schools to remain closed and announcing new curfew hours from 8pm to 5:30 am while operating hours for businesses have been extended to 5pm. Nehanda Radio