By Tendai Mukaro
President Emerson Mnangagwa’s recent statement in Bulawayo on the Covid-19 vaccine has met a lot of criticism as some Zimbabweans accuse him of indirectly coercing people.
President Mnangagwa said the vaccine was voluntary though there might come a time when those not vaccinated would not be allowed in public spaces.
“You are not forced to be vaccinated but time shall come when those who are not vaccinated will not get jobs and will not be able to board ZUPCO buses so decide what you do,” he said.
This statement has been interpreted as a coercion by some people on social media platforms.
People have raised concerns on whether the vaccines were safe especially for people with underlying conditions such as epilepsy, sugar diabetes, Hiv and Aids.
Reports indicate some frontline workers in the country had rejected the vaccine.
Locals seem concerned as there is no adequate and readily available information on the vaccine.
Questions have been raised on whether clinical tests were done to ascertain whether the vaccine had side effects.
Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga was the first government official to receive the vaccine with President Mnangagwa indicating he would get vaccinated when the second batch arrived in a few weeks.
“How will we know that the same vaccine they are giving us is the same which the VP was given?” a Harare man John Danda asked.
Some religious leaders have started to link the vaccination program with the controversial mark of the beast theory.
“Tavekumazuva ekupedzisira uye vanenzeve ngavanzwe zvinoreva mweya kukereke,” said a Chinhoyi based Pastor who preferred anonymity.
However, some locals said the resistance was as a result of fear as people had not been educated on the vaccine.
“This is what happened when the first ARVs came, people were just as pessimistic as they are today but, look at how many people are now living normal lives with HIV today,” Tonderai Mhlanga from Kwekwe said.