Mixed-messaging by the government on the issue of COVID-19 vaccines have led to many people asking if there is really a plan in place.
The government last month, informed the citizens that it had come up with a COVID-19 Vaccine Policy.
Among other things, the policy was going to talk about are procurement and rollout of the life-saving jabs.
However, the situation on the ground and various statements from the government have left many doubting the existence of a plan.
Where is US$100m coming from?
Last week, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube announced that he had set aside about US$100million for 20 million doses of vaccines.
He said the 20 million doses will inoculate about 10 million people to reach herd immunity.
This is the same government that has been broke to buy PPE or even ventilators. It also failed to pay US$81 000 to the United Nations (UN). So where did the US$100 million come from?
The 2021 national budget does not have provisions for the US$100 million Covid-19 war-chest, but that is a story for another day.
Mthuli’s statement comes at a time when the country is said to be still testing to see which vaccine will be suitable.
There are more than 20 vaccines on the market. The vaccines have different prices and some are single-dose regimens while the other is double.
By announcing that the US$100 million will buy 20 million doses, what information was the minister using, since the country is still testing the vaccines.
Does Mthuli already know before the tests are finished that the country will use double dose regimen?
Or are they even testing the vaccines at all?
Who knows he could have been using the sophisticated algorithm that was used to pay the yet-to-arrive cushioning-allowances to vulnerable citizens.
But, if indeed there is a vaccine plan, why is it being kept a secret from the citizens?
Parliamentarians who represent people and play an oversight role on the government are themselves not aware of the plan.
Govt challenged to publish vaccine plan
Just recently a court application was filed to compel the same government to avail the country’s plan for the vaccine. It will not be surprising that the government will be opposing the application.
Publication of the plan can go a long way in addressing doubts that are in the minds of citizens.
One of the biggest challenges that the current government face is lack of trust from the citizens. Even when presented with opportunities to regain that trust they always choose the opposite.
In fact, one wonders why they always want to be forced through a court order for them to do the right things.
At one point in time, they had to be dragged to court for them to start availing PPE to health workers.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa told the nation that Zimbabwe will be receiving donations of vaccines from China in a few weeks.
The question is which vaccine are we receiving from China? When did we do the test to see its compatibility or efficacy?
Isn’t it that the same government says we are still to decide on the choice of the vaccine as tests are in progress?
These are but some of the many questions that beg for answers. But the government is not in the business of answering questions especially those that seem to go against their narrative.
The government begging bowl
Mthuli Ncube who announced the US$100million Covid-19 war-chest has now sent out begging bowls to the private sector and citizens.
The citizens are now wondering whether this is where the US$100 million is expected to come from or not?
Zimbabwe’s shambolic response to COVID-19 is as a result of the poor funding of the health sector by the treasury.
Even though the country signed to the Abuja Declaration, committing to give 15% of the budget to health, it has dismally failed to live up to it.
Health budget has been hoovering around 9% and 11% of the total budget.
This has seen the health sector, surviving mainly on donations from development partners and United Nations Agencies.
If the vaccine plan is there then the government must make it public to allow scrutiny.
The other thing is that it should be laid before Parliament so that it can be debated and panel beat. Get more Covid-19 Stats on CovidZW.info #OpenCovidContracts