HARARE, (Reuters) – Zimbabwe will bar unvaccinated government workers from reporting for duty from Monday as part of efforts to fight COVID-19, an official circular showed.
The southern African country has, as of Oct. 14, recorded 4,655 COVID-19-related deaths from 132,251 infections since March 2020.
Although the country was one of the first on the continent to vaccinate against COVID-19, less than 2.5 million people out of its 15 million population have been fully vaccinated.
The vaccination rate has slowed down in recent weeks, as infections decline, with the government saying it has adequate doses in store.
On Sept. 14 President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet ordered all government workers to get vaccinated, giving them a month to comply. Those barred from work will not get paid, according to the cabinet directive.
“Please note that members who fail to produce the vaccination certificates shall not be allowed to report for duty, in an endeavour to implement (the) government’s thrust of minimising the spread and effect of the novel COVID-19 pandemic,” the Oct. 14 circular said. It was signed by health permanent secretary Jasper Chimedza and was distributed to heads of government departments and shared with reporters.
“Those who will not attend to their daily duties due to non-compliance shall be deemed to be absent from work and consequential action will be taken,” it said, referring to no pay and potential disciplinary action.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country’s main labour body, has gone to court to challenge the government’s compulsory vaccination drive, which has also been adopted by some private businesses.