By Nqobile Tshili
Cabinet yesterday approved the inclusion of journalists among the frontline workers to receive Covid-19 vaccine doses in the ongoing first stage of the inoculation programme.
Cabinet also approved the inclusion of road authorities among essential service providers to operate during national lockdown level four so that they could rehabilitate the country’s roads that have been damaged by heavy rains.
Government declared the country’s roads a state of disaster and is mobilising resources to fix the roads.
Zimbabwe launched the national Covid-19 vaccination programme last Thursday in Harare.
The exercise went into full swing on Monday across all the country’s 10 provinces.
Frontline workers in the health sector, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) personnel, Customs, Immigration and those in the security sector were among the targeted groups to receive the Covid-19 vaccine before the inclusion of journalists.
Addressing the Press during a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said journalists are critical frontliners in the dissemination of information, hence their inclusion.
“Cabinet has approved the request by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to include journalists in Phase One of the inoculation because journalism is listed as an essential service in SI 93 of 2020 and the media plays a crucial role in providing information that saves lives,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said Cabinet was also briefed of the smooth flow of the Covid-19 vaccination programme that started countrywide on Monday following last Thursday’s launch.
“Vaccine distribution and training of vaccinators are underway across the country. Vaccination of target groups commenced on 22 February 2021 in all the provinces. Measures have been put in place to guarantee a steady flow of vaccine doses, and to ensure that targeted groups receive their doses at the appropriate time,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the country was expecting 75 000 Covid-19 vaccines from India and an additional 12 000 doses from Russia.
“The vaccines come on the backdrop of another 200 000 doses donated by the People’s Republic of China.
Meanwhile, Government of Zimbabwe has put together resources sufficient to procure Covid-19 vaccines to cover the herd immunity of 10 million people (60 percent),” she said.
She said Cabinet approved that road authorities should be considered as an essential service to enable them to attend to the country’s roads.
“The main reasons for the request include, but are not limited to the following: roads create an enabling environment in any economy as they bridge the conveyance gap between supply and demand; the importance of roads is further amplified in responses to disaster situations; and the current above-normal rains have brought severe damage to the national road network leaving communities cut off from assessing essential services; and the President has since declared roads in our towns and cities dysfunctional and Government has committed to take over roads in urban areas for repairs,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government was training school health co-ordinators and assessing preparedness for the reopening of schools.
She said Government was taking all precautionary measures to ensure a safe reopening of schools.
The minister said Cabinet also deliberated on the issue of unjustified price hikes which Government is investigation with the aim of coming with a recourse.
“Cabinet takes exception to the recent unwarranted hikes in prices of goods and services by unscrupulous businesspeople. Government would like to inform the nation that investigations into the matter are currently underway, and that Government will leave no stone unturned until it brings the culprits to book,” said the Minister.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government was screening the food aid beneficiaries list to weed out undeserving individuals while addressing the donor dependency syndrome.
“Cabinet approved the proposed re-targeting of the Food Mitigation Programme beneficiaries as presented by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare as Acting Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Social
Services and Poverty Eradication. This was in view of the need to ensure that the programme targets clearly deserving beneficiaries in light of the need for flexibility and to do away with the dependency syndrome among the citizenry,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. The Chronicle