GOVERNMENT is now taking stock of traditional leaders’ response to the Covid-19 vaccination drive with every chief and headmen expected to have received their jabs as a way of encouraging inoculation in rural areas.
Provinces mainly dominated by rural districts around the country have been lagging behind in the Covid-19 vaccination drive owing to religious and social factors that influenced inoculation hesitancy.
Although the numbers are now on a steady increase, just like in urban areas, misinformation has also fuelled vaccination hesitancy in rural areas.
Addressing Cyclone Idai survivors during the handover of maize-meal donated by South Africa last week on Wednesday, Local Government and Public Works Minister, Dr July Moyo said it is time traditional leaders take up an active role in supporting Government programmes in fighting the pandemic.
Minister Moyo said it will be easier for traditional leaders to preach the vaccination message if they themselves are vaccinated.
“In terms of the Covid-19 precautionary efforts, I call upon all traditional leaders to take an active role in supporting Government programmes in fighting the pandemic.
“We call upon all chiefs in the country — 288 of them — to be vaccinated. We now want to go one by one, starting with chiefs and their headmen to ensure that they are vaccinated.
“If we say we have 36 000 village heads, we want to know how many have been vaccinated. Over the weekend, I toured some chiefs just to find out how many among them had been vaccinated and their headman as well.
“It becomes easier for the traditional leaders to preach the message of vaccination if they themselves are vaccinated. All headmen on the ground should come in and assist Government in this vaccination drive like what they did during Cyclone Idai.
“There are areas we did not know during the tropical storm, but traditional leaders led the way in the disaster response period. This is the same spirit we are expecting now that we are faced with another disaster,” said Minister Moyo.
Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is being hailed from different corners of the globe for being effective and efficient.
Palestinian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Tamer Almassri said the country’s vaccination programme is better organised and open to anyone wanting the jab compared to many countries including some in Europe.
Outgoing United States of America Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Brian Nicholas, said: “Zimbabwe has had important progress in key areas like vaccination. It is number three on the continent in terms of Covid-19 vaccines.”
In making that proclamation, Ambassadors Almassri and Nicholas joined many high profile individuals and organisations such as World Health Organisation (WHO) that praised Zimbabwe’s vaccination programme.