SENIOR STAFF WRITER
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has assured the nation that Zimbabwe has sourced enough Covid-19 vaccines to
inoculate at least 60 percent of the population.
Appearing virtually before a parliamentary portfolio committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development enquiry into Covid-19 financing yesterday, Ncube also told legislators the government has set aside the requisite financial resources to administer the national vaccination rollout programme.
This comes as Zimbabwe began inoculating frontline workers, including health staff, police, military, prison, immigration, customs and media personnel, last week after receiving 200 000 SinoPharm doses from China. Once the first phase is complete, the second stage will see the elderly above 60, the chronically ill, teachers and the prison population get their jabs.
The third and final stage of the inoculation exercise will see the rest of the population receive their vaccines. “We have set aside US$100 million for the procurement of vaccines. Apart from that, the Treasury has also set aside US$7 million to finance the roll out of the inoculation programme. “We have purchased 600 000 doses from China which will be arriving next week and 1,15 million jabs under Covax facility.
“Apart from our own resources, China donated a further 200 000 doses, taking China’s total donation of vaccines to 400 000 doses. “The Russian Federation, India and the United Kingdom have also pledged donations of various
vaccines, with Russia promising 20 000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine and India promising 75 000
doses,” Ncube told the legislators.
He said the government would certainly achieve herd immunity of 60 percent of the population, which translates to around 10 million people. Responding to Gokwe Chireya legislator Tonderai Moyo’s question to break down the source of the funds, Ncube said the money came from last year’s budget surplus.
“We got US$50 million from last year’s budget surplus and the remainder of the funds is coming from undistributed funds sitting in the Treasury,” he added.
Mthuli said the government has established a team of experts drawn from the academia, ministry of Health and Child Care, and research and clinical practitioners to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccines.
He said the team’s recommendations would guide the country’s vaccination rollout programme at all times. Mthuli reiterated that the inoculation programme is voluntary and free. As of Wednesday, the cumulative Covid-19 cases were at 36 115, with 32 905 recoveries and 1 463 deaths.
As active cases continued to fall, President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday relaxed the lockdown measures and allowed the informal sector to resume operations after spending more than two months under total lockdown.
Mnangagwa said the nation needs to gradually open up the economy. He however emphasised that operators in the informal sector would only be allowed to resume after registration with responsible authorities and that they would be expected to comply with Covid-19 regulations.