Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he will be vaccinated against Covid-19 under an ongoing government programme.
His deputy, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, became the first Zimbabwean to get a Sinopharm jab on Thursday after the Southern African country received 200 000 doses of the vaccine from China.
More vaccines are expected as authorities target vaccinating 10 million people to achieve herd immunity.
At the burial of National Hero Deputy Police Commissioner (retired) Moses Griffiths Mpofu on Saturday, President Mnangagwa encouraged Zimbabweans to take the vaccine.
“The vaccine is safe and an effective antidote against Covid-19 and indeed part of our weaponry in fighting the virus,” he said.
He added, “All of us, including myself as the President, Cabinet ministers and all officials, will get vaccinated.
“So should you, my dear Zimbabweans, if we are to protect ourselves, our families and our nation, towards returning our lives to normalcy.”
The Zimbabwe leader continued: “Children must go back to school and businesses must reopen with regards resumption of normal economic life of our nation.
“More doses of vaccines will be delivered until we vaccinate all those who volunteer to participate in the vaccination programme, which is fully funded by our Government.”
He emphasised vigilance, saying “the war against the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be won”.
As at February 19, the country had recorded 35 710 Covid-19 cases; 1 430 deaths and 31 972 recoveries.
“While Covid-19 is still with us stealing our loved ones, we should not let our guard down. Instead, let us heighten our vigilance so that we win the war against it,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Let me once more thank the Chinese government for supporting our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The global demand for vaccines is enormous; yet the People’s Republic of China put Zimbabwe ahead of many nations. We are truly thankful.
“We are equally thankful to Russia, India and the United Kingdom. We applaud this gesture of great humanity and show of solidarity”.
According to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, more than 130 countries are yet to receive their first doses of Covid-19 vaccines.