Zimbabwe has ordered all government workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or risk not being covered by insurance if they are infected and become ill.

After a post-cabinet meeting, information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government was concerned about the continued increase in cases and was putting measures in place to combat Covid-19.

“In light of the continued rise in Covid-19 cases, cabinet approved … the decongesting of both public and private sector workplaces. Government has further reduced its workforce to 25% to decongest offices on two-week rotations, and vaccinated staff will be given priority.

“The courts of law [will] be opened only for remand and urgent cases. And all civil servants should be vaccinated and those who fall ill without having been vaccinated will not be entitled to the Covid-19 insurance,” warned Mutsvangwa.

Zimbabwe’s government employs about 250,000 people. Mutsvangwa added that all civil servants should be tested for Covid-19 at the commencement and end of the two-week rotational interval.

Lockdown now includes a dawn-dusk curfew, shorter working hours and a ban on inter-city travel. Zimbabwe is in the middle of a third wave, with rising infections and deaths, and about 80% of new cases are due to the Delta variant.

Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, said compulsory vaccination for civil servants was wrong.

“From the beginning government messaging has been disappointing, there is a lack of consultation and engagement. Instead of forcing civil servants to get vaccinated, the government should offer constructive dialogue and address the fears civil servants have concerning the vaccine.

“People must be allowed to make their own decisions and it is wrong to force people to get vaccinated,” said Majongwe.

About 1,491,493 Zimbabweans have received their first vaccine dose, and nearly 687,216 have received their second.

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