THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for that very important question. First of all, I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the good compliments for the work the Government of Zimbabwe did to make sure that we contain the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been a very difficult balance to make between serving people’s lives and also serving economic activities of the country. This is worldwide; it is a problem which is affecting all countries, not only Zimbabwe.
He is particularly concerned about ensuring that all school children from the age of 14 – we announced as Cabinet yesterday that there is now going to be a consideration in making sure that children will be vaccinated from the age of 14 going upwards. There has been a study going on and now it has actually approved to be effective because also children are being infected by COVID–19.
The Government has done everything possible. There is an accelerating procurement of vaccination in the country. I am sure you have noticed that we are almost receiving 2.5 million every week; sometimes one million. We are actually looking at achieving the 20 million herd immunity which we require by end of the year. We have also ramped up vaccination and one of the decisions which have been taken is to make sure that health workers’ welfare is looked into so that they work hard to make sure that they vaccinate. Our people also are clamouring for vaccination, which was not the case before when we started. So, we are really doing everything possible to make that we vaccinate all those from that age. At this point, it is still from 18 years upwards. The 14 years has just been included and the Ministry of Health and Child Care is now looking at how they can be included in the group of those who are being vaccinated.
We have also announced the reopening of schools and we appreciate the fact that children have not been going to school since June. I think the experts, the decisions which are taken are not just taken by one person but there is a group of people who are experts, who will look into the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. They did a lot of work together with all stakeholders to make sure that we prepare our schools, to make sure they are safe and we will be able to look after our children and contain the disease. So, the decision which was taken has been done after very tireless considerations. A lot of work has been done; a lot of research has been done and a lot of money has been invested to make sure that as our children go back to school they will be going into safe schools, where we will be able to contain the spread of COVID-19. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President. My supplementary question is; in view of this, what is the Government policy on confusing directives where different institutions say students should come vaccinated? Some say if you are not vaccinated you are not going to attend lessons. What is the Government position on such directives? I thank you.
HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for that supplementary question. I think I was about to talk on policy of fake news. Definitely as Government and as Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, our job is to make sure that we put a good narrative. We know that with the advent of social media, there is a lot of fake news, so our job is to make sure that we continuously put the right narrative. The fact that we came up with the Post-Cabinet Briefing which is given timely, the same day we had Cabinet, is to make sure that our people get timeous information which they can validate basing on what they read from social media. So, there is no Government policy which says students should be vaccinated for them to go back to school.