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SENATE HANSARD 18 FEBRUARY 2021 VOL 30 NO 20
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 18th February, 2021
The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
LOGGING IN ON VIRTUAL PLATFORM
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to inform the Senate that all Senators are required to log in using their full names for identification purposes or indicate their name on the chat platform. This will assist officers in the compilation of attendance registers.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I do not have a list of apologies from ministers. On the front bench, I can only see the Leader of the House and Minister of Information, Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa and the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Hon. Murwira, he always comes. Those are the ministers we have at the moment. There is also Hon. Phuti, the Deputy Minister of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, the Hon. Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. All ministers, you are welcome to Senate.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to ask a question. My question is directed to the Hon. Deputy Minister of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Hon. Phuti. In view of the fact that it is a Government policy that information is accessible to all Zimbabweans throughout the country, what are they doing as a policy measure to make sure that some areas which we know by now that there is no network also have network? All the three networks are not functioning. I just wanted to find out.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Sen. Khupe. Before the Minister gives us the answer, the Hon. Minister for National Housing has walked in, Hon. Garwe.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, POSTAL AND COURIER SERVICES (HON. PHUTI): Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Khupe for the question that he has posed. Yes, a lot of places in Zimbabwe are still underserved and the Government has been working on bridging the digital divide between places, particularly between towns and rural areas to the extent that…
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order Hon. Minister, you are not connected. While they are sorting out on getting connected, those with questions to other Ministers can proceed.
*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to direct my question to the Leader of the House. We want to understand the variant which we have heard is emanating from South Africa. We want to establish if we have the variant of the virus here in Zimbabwe and what the different is between the Covid-19 that we know of here in Zimbabwe and this one.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Senator, the Vice President is coming in to give a statement, if we can just wait for that statement.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NGEZI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity. My question is directed to the Leader of the House. There is human and wildlife conflict that is happening. To be specific, elephants are destroying crops. In other areas people are being killed by animals. What initiatives are there to safeguard human beings from wild animals?
*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you Madam President. I would like to thank the Hon. Senator Chief Ngezi for the very important question. This is something that the Government is working on, working together with other development partners to ensure that there is harmony between humans and wildlife, and to make sure that crops are not destroyed. The money is channeled through the Zimbabwe National Parks to make sure that human life is guaranteed to be safeguarded from wildlife. In Manicaland in Mutema area, we have evidence of animals destroying crops. Government has always been channeling funds towards such projects. We are very sorry in cases where human life has been lost because of human and wildlife conflict.
The other problem is that humans go on to destroy the fences that have been put to safeguard them. So we are educating people on the use of fences and that they are there to safeguard their lives.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President my question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education. From what he is doing on COVID vaccines, are there other plans for them to come up with pre and post emergency chemicals which are used in farming because herbicides are a challenge. Our crops are not growing because of weeds.
*THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA): Thank you Madam President for the question that has been asked by Senator Tongogara. Our education should be practical. For one to be called an educated person, it is to be skilled in a certain area but not that you are educated and you cannot do practical things. I want to talk about all the work that is being done, including coming up with the herbicides. We have a very good plan for us. There is what we call armyworm; we have come up with an insecticide which we made from indigenous trees. We did this with the innovation hub of the University of Zimbabwe and we have tried it on 400 hectares which the University of Zimbabwe has ploughed. The insecticide that we used, we came up with it at the University of Zimbabwe. So, we are looking that with time we are going to channel it through our laboratories into the factories.
On the 4th of December, 2020, His Excellency President Mnangagwa opened the first factory at the University of Zimbabwe. That is where we are going to put factories that are making those insecticides. The insecticides that we are making these days are environmental friendly that is why we are making them from our indigenous trees. So, in short, let us say it is still in the pipeline. We do not win all the time but we do it, we will come up with something. This one for armyworm we have it but for the weeds we are also looking at it. Our wish is that we should not import food, we should do all our things and import luxury things. For a country to go on we cannot rely on imports.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I think the Deputy Minister is now ready.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, POSTAL AND COURIER SERVICES (HON. PHUTI): Thank you Madam President. The question from Hon. Sen. Khupe was about the unfair distribution of network provision in the country which leaves a digital divide between places particularly cities and rural areas.
Government through my Ministry is working on making sure that there is access to network, there is connectivity throughout the country. There is BOT model that has been embraced that has to do with a partnership between POTRAZ and mobile network operators. This is where POTRAZ as the telecoms regulator in the country provides funds through the universal service fund to enable construction of base stations. This is where then telecoms operators, the three of them as we have currently, will then use an approach called infrastructure sharing where we are discouraging from erecting base stations…
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Minister, may you address the Chair, do not address the Hon. Senator, it is for the whole House.
HON. PHUTI: Thank you Madam President. The infrastructural sharing model allows that universal service funds builds base stations in very underserviced places and allow the three operators to operate from one base station and serve expenditure especially foreign currency.
There are places where you find duplications and at times you find the three of them being found in one possible hill. We have approached this by encouraging them to agree amongst themselves which two of them are going to move those base stations to other underserviced places so that we accelerate on ensuring that base stations cover throughout the country. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. In his absence, the Leader of the House can answer. From what I have read from the newspapers and what I gathered from teachers around the country, some provinces did not do well in the recently announced Grade 7 results. I do not know whether these results were so poor because most schools were doing e-learning or that some even failed to access e-learning especially in the rural areas. I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you very much Madam President. I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the question pertaining to the Grade 7 results. I would like to tell this House the importance of schools and how busy the Government and parents are concerned with the issue of having children attending classes in schools.
Children are not going to school due to the pandemic that has troubled the whole world. It has greatly affected the education sector. Yes, it is true that there have been disturbances in the education sector in this country. However, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is not going to leave any stone unturned. They are doing everything they can to make sure that children find something to do with regards to educating them.
I would like to thank Zimbabweans for following the rules and regulations with regards to the COVID 19 pandemic. With regards to the Grade 7 results, I have been talking to Hon. Mathema who said there is a study being conducted to establish challenges that were faced by these schools which obtained 0%.
The Ministry of ICT is doing everything within their purview to make sure that the whole country has network and children are able to access e-learning and not just to sit at home. That is why you are seeing money being channeled towards devolution so that everyone is involved in the development of this country. E-learning is very important to us as a country. A lot is being done by the Government to make sure that everyone is glued on e-learning.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I am kindly requesting the Minister that when the research and study on 0% pass rate is done, may you also look at those schools which obtained 100% pass rate yet schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In my view, that 100% pass rate is also suspicious since children were not attending classes.
*HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: I would like to thank Sen. Chief Charumbira with his supplementary question. However, it is also important to help the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in their research by releasing names of such schools that obtained 100% during this COVID-19 pandemic. We have introduced e-learning because of COVID-19 not that it was a sustainable solution.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government. We are told of the recent Government policy of trying to get rid of informal settlement and bringing in orderly settlement within the urban set-up. What is the Government policy on the timing of demolitions happening within the country because the timing appears to coincide with the rainy season whereby the affected people will be subjected to more hardships?
THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (HON. GARWE): I would start by making a correction; we are not the Ministry of Local Government but Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities. There are no demolitions taking place right now. The demolitions that took place sometime in October last year under the instruction of court orders. They were not haphazard demolitions. However, Government intervened and stopped these because the demolitions were being engineered by the local authority.
We have a policy on human settlement which is going to be launched very soon and now gives us directions as to where we build, how we build and protect wetlands in the process; prohibit people from building in river basins and river banks. We also have a policy that is being developed right now of wetland which prohibits people including local authorities, councillors and others involved in this scam to stop passing land in wetlands to people to build houses. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: We have recently seen some notices where local authorities were giving people time to demolish their structure and after that date, there will be no warning, which means the local authorities would come and implement whether it is a court order or whatever. This is where we are worried. We are in the rainy season and these people will live in uncertainty. How do you expect them to demolish their structures currently? I thank you.
HON. GARWE: The local authorities are not giving people notices. If they are, please inform central Government.
However, what is happening right now is that there is a Committee that has been set up by the President chaired by Hon. Vice President Dr. Chiwenga to deal with issues of people that are resident in wetlands and in river banks. This Committee is going to break down the implementation process in three phases; the first phase/category consists of people that were settled in river banks and basins – areas which are prone to floods. These are going to be relocated to safer ground. The second phase is of people that are in wetlands and areas that are designated for the provision of recreational facilities and other social amenities. Those will be relocated immediately after the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, working closely with the Ministry of Local Government and local authorities, provide plans and serviced settlements. They will be moved there. The Third Phase refers to people that occupied areas set aside for social amenities. They will be removed accordingly to well planned and identified areas suitable for human settlements – well planned, serviced with water roads and sewer. Government will come or invite the private sector or any other players to build vertical buildings or flats. This is what we are calling densification. We have said in the policy that 40% of all the land set aside for human settlement must be set aside for the provision of vertical buildings/flats. That is the programme that Government is running right now. I promise that there are no demolitions that are taking place. If there are any, they are imaginary demolitions.
*HON. SEN. HUNGWE: Before I pose my question, I would like to pay my condolences for the departed Hon. Senators. We suffered a great loss. From Mashonaland East where you come from Madam President, we lost quite a number – my sincere condolences to you.
My question is directed to Hon. Minister Murwira. We have this pandemic and we have been told that there is no medication. Some countries have come up with vaccines. We have seen your expertise and you have just talked about the other medicines that you have come up with. Do we not have scientists and doctors who can come up with vaccines? We have Zumbani – can you not do something so that we can also be on the world map with regards creation of vaccines? Can you not put the local herbs together so that we come up with a vaccine for COVID?
I am saying this because we have seen a lot of people surviving by doing steam baths using these local herbs. Minister, you are one of those scientists, can you not do something so that we come up with a vaccine in Zimbabwe and get some money.
*THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA): In short, Hon. Sen. Hungwe’s question in short is ‘what are we doing in the face of this pandemic’?
Firstly, we said that our front, masking, our social distancing, sanitising and washing hands. This took us somewhere. Our second phase is that we get vaccinations or medicines. When the Chancellor of the State Universities, His Excellence Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa said heritage based education, he meant that we should look at what we have in this country. In support of that, the medicines that we know are our herbs – whatever they are doing anywhere, the medicines are coming from herbs. We know that when we go to Gokwe, Chipinge, Hwange and when we are coming from Hwange to Chipinge; when you get there, you would eat the soil there. Those are the vaccines.
Because of that, we are busy doing our research on medicines and we are also bringing scientists and doctors so that they come up with a vaccine. It is very important for a country to be able to protect itself from hunger, diseases, poverty and any other challenges. All this can be done through research. I am promising you that we are not going to be 100% successful – that is why it is called a research but keep watching, you will see it. This country is going to succeed and move forward. This will only come from one thing, which is the desire to go forward. That is what we are doing. I cannot say everything in this House but something is going on. Today, I have seen that one of our universities in Mutare, Africa University, has come up with zumbani cough drops. There are a lot of things that we are doing with zumbani. Just keep watching. I cannot get into detail but something is coming.
(v)*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I have a query Madam President that those who are contributing in the House are not giving a chance to those who are on virtual. We are not getting quality access of what is happening. We are not getting what is happening or being said by those in the House. We want to hear the person who is debating clearly. We are not getting them clearly.
My question is how far are we with licencing of other television stations.
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I would like to thank the Hon Senator for his question. I would like to notify this House that the Second Republic was concerned that we were one of the few countries in the 1960s to establish a television station yet we still have one television station. We are focusing on freedom of the skies to make sure that people have a variety of content. What they want to watch is what they are supposed to watch in terms of content.
Our first objective was to make sure that the statutory body, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is well structured to make sure that everything is in place before we go any further. As we speak, BAZ which is the statutory body responsible for giving out licences has, for the first time, given out licences to six different commercial companies. These are commercial television channels. The setting up of a television station is not an overnight event, but it is something that takes time. It will indeed happen. Let us keep our eyes glued to the television sets, something will definitely happen in terms of that. When people are given licences, there is a timeframe which they are given before they can broadcast because there is a lot that is involved when one is given a television licence. The process is not very long but it has to be followed. That one is very important. Six television stations are meant to start.
We are making sure that all communities have access to these television stations. The main objective is to make sure that everyone in Zimbabwe has access to information. That is the fundamental thing that we are looking at. We will get there.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): I move that Questions without Notice be suspended to allow the Vice President to make a Ministerial Statement.
Motion put and agreed to.
COVID VACCINE DEPLOYMENT AND ROLLOUT PLAN
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. RTD. GENERAL DR. CHIWENGA): The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the country resulting in 35 423 positive cases and 1 418 deaths as of yesterday 17th February 2021. High numbers of both positive cases and deaths has prompted the country to plan for the introduction of a vaccine but at the same time, we are not amiss to our own research and development. The country has already secured 200 000 doses of the vaccines which were donated by the People’s Republic of China which will be administered to priority groups countrywide.
In addition, an operational budget to fund the implementation of planned activities is in place and has been shared with Treasury. The COVID-19 vaccination and deployment plan identifies key areas for successful roll out of the vaccine.
OBJECTIVES OF COVID VACCINATION PLAN
Madam President, the National Roll-Out, Deployment and Vaccination Plan (DVP) is a guiding document that provides a framework for implementation of the programme. I launched this programme today at Wilkins Hospital - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]. The broad objective of the COVID-19 vaccination is to enable high quality vaccination services and reduce morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19 disease.
- To vaccinate eligible population on a voluntary basis for free.
- Vaccinate a minimum of 60% of the total population to achieve head immunity.
- To initiate vaccination through eligible high risk target populations.
- To provide adequate vaccines and supplies for the activity.
- To ensure availability of functional cold chain equipment at all levels. This starts from the manufacturer. If we are to get our vaccines at a certain temperature, like for instance, the current vaccines have to be at a temperature of between 2-8ºC. So from Beijing, from the factory they were loaded on to the plane at that temperature and had to fly all the way to Harare at that temperature, offloaded and sent to our National Pharmaceutical Holding Company at that same temperature. Today, when we introduced the vaccination it was at that same temperature because if anything goes wrong then either the vaccine is rendered useless and is thrown away. So that is the cold-chain we are talking about.
- To monitor progress, adverse events following immunisation (AEFIs) and provide corrective action. When somebody has been given the vaccine, not all people will react the same. In here Hon. Members we can be given Stopayne tablet because we all have a headache but some will react to it and some the headaches will quickly go away, and this is what we are talking about- the AEFIs. After the immunisation what is the reaction? Are there any adverse reactions or has somebody reacted to the vaccine? This is what we want to take care of and this has been part of the training which has been going on and which has always been within the Ministry.
- Create demand for immunisation.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an emergency vaccine registered by Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) under Emergency Use Authority. This is in terms of section 75 of the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act Chapter 15:03. The registration which we have done on all the vaccines which have been looked at by our scientists, our professionals and experts, we have registered them under this Emergency Use Authority and we have done not only Sinopharm but we have also done Sinovac, Sputnik Victory which is normally SputinV and we are also doing other vaccines from other countries but the procedure will be done by MCAZ who are our experts who will deal with this thing. That is why we have got our scientists who are trained to do this kind of job.
The Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials Committee will implement vaccine vigilance plans to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in use. Each vaccine consignment shall be physically verified and cleared by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe upon arrival. For this last consignment, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care had to lead the delegation and the head of MCAZ was also part of the delegation together with the Ministry of Finance. He had to come with the consignment and make sure that all procedures were been followed. Each consignment shall be cleared on the basis of the standard vaccine lot release documentation.
The Regulatory Framework
The Ministry will set up and implement the safety monitoring plan
to enable swift detection of any Adverse Events Following
Immunisation (AEFI). Lastly, the Ministry is to consider a study to
confirm immunogenicity of the product in the local population
Planning and coordination
Training of provinces and districts training of trainers has already been conducted. This programme has been completed successfully. Training of the vaccinators will be conducted from 20-21st February, 2021. Vaccinations will be rolled out throughout the country on Monday 22nd February.
Resources and Funding
Treasury has raised US$100 million for purchase of COVID-19 vaccines. We want to safeguard all our citizens, life cannot be bought and it is the right of each Zimbabwean to survive – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – Corporate partners requested to meet with His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde. Emmerson. Dambudzo Mnangagwa on 26th January, 2021 and pledged to assist in fund-raising, though Government will decide which vaccines to be purchased. That meeting was successfully done Madam President. As I speak, the Account has been opened and we are receiving a lot of donations from corporate partners, these are Zimbabweans – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –
The estimated overall operational budget, excluding purchase of vaccines for COVID-19 vaccination is US$6 778 777.00 for Phase 1. The Budget Summary for Phase 1, Stage 1 and for all stages is indicated in the tables below. Madam President, I have asked for the photocopying of copies for Hon. Senators so that each one will have a copy and can follow the programme as we go on. So, it is tabulated from training right up to waste management.
|Planning and Training
|DSA and lunch for vaccinators
|Fuel for outreach teams
|Post Implementation evaluation
|Advocacy and communication
|Data collection and tools
The target population for vaccinations, Phase 1, Stage 1 and 2, we are looking at 3 662 279 people, which will constitute 22% of our population.
Target population for vaccinations
|% of population
|Phase 1 ( stage 1 and 2)
|3 662 279
|3 050 855
|3 050 855
|9 763 988
|Total population under 16 yrs
|6 795 000
|16 558 987
Madam President, the figures I have given here are estimates but as you are aware, the census will be done next year where we are going to get the actual figures, but we are using estimated figures as Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Target population for Phase 1, Stage 1 – here we are talking about that population which we said we want to immunise first; the Ministry of Health, which is the health sector, we are looking at 49 000, which require to be vaccinated.
Target Population for Phase 1 Stage 1
|Ministry of Health and Child Care
|Ministry of Heath Private Sector
|Zimbabwe Defence Forces
|Zimbabwe Prison Service
|Zimbabwe Prisons Service and Correctional Centre
The Security forces, we are looking at the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prison Services and Correctional Service but we are not looking at the totality. For example if we look at the Zimbabwe Republic Police, they are 50 000 but we will be looking at 500 plus of their health workers. They are the ones to get the first priority. For the Defence Forces, we are looking at 3 000 plus and for the Prison Services we are looking at 700 plus. In addition, we have ZIMRA, Immigration and Agritex, we want these to be in the Phase 1, Stage 1. There are other small groups which will be in this but in the main, these are the categories of people we are looking at in Phase 1, Stage 1 to be vaccinated.
Target group for vaccinations, Phase 1, population at high risk, Stage 1, these are the frontline workers which I have talked about like the health workers, port of entry personnel, ZIMRA, Immigration, Security services, Funeral Parlours and Agritex. These are in the Stage 1.
Stage 2, we are looking at chronic illnesses like diabetic patients, those with underlying conditions, it might be diabetis, cancer, HIV/AIDS or those who have had multiple operations. We want to save them because they are people in a risky category; the elderly population who are 60 years and above. So I hope the majority of the Hon. Senators here will be eligible – [Laughter] – Prison population and others as well as confined settlements like refugee camps are considered to be in stage 2 as they are likely to get this disease because of staying together in big numbers. Those in the prisons - it does not necessarily mean that when a person has gone for correctional services he has been sentenced to death. He is still a good citizen, we want him or her to be corrected and then come back. We have got few refugee camps in the country and those people are living in concentrated areas. We want them to be considered at this stage because we do not want them to be infected with this disease. Even some of our urban settlements are not the best settlements we can talk about. So, we will look at that and make sure that those people are saved.
Going to Phase 2, we are looking at lecturers, all school staff populations and other staff at medium risk depending with the epidemiological picture of the disease at that time. We will also be looking at how the disease will be playing havoc in our population.
Phase 3 will be the population at low risk which will be the last group. We have divided our people into three phases but Phase 1 has got two stages which are frontline workers and those with underlying conditions, that is stage 1 and stage 2.
Training – development and adoption of training materials for all activities
The Ministry has arranged trainings of trainers (ToTs) for provincial and district trainers.
Provincial and District trainers will in turn train health workers at service delivery centres.
Expanded programme on immunisation or EPI will support planning and conduct of the (ToTs).
Online in-person and blended learning, that is the combination of online and in person which are the most common methods that will be used to train staff.
Areas of training to include vaccine storage, communication, surveillance, vaccination and monitoring and evaluation, the AEFI and waste management. As you are aware, when we talk of waste management, we are talking of the real virus. So waste must be well managed.
Vaccination Service Delivery
The actual administration of the vaccine will be done at fixed and outreach points.
One to two outreach teams will be allocated per rural district depending on the size of the district with five people per team. For example, City of Harare will be allocated 11 teams, Bulawayo four teams, Chitungwiza two teams to deal with the vaccination. So vaccination teams will require fuel, lunch and daily subsistence allowances. That is why we talked about that operational budget. The assumption is that vaccination will be conducted over 10 days in the first round and five days in the second round. You might be asking why 10 days first – it is because our staff is still learning and obviously when you are starting something you have not yet learnt the tricks. By the second round, we think they will be more experienced and will do it faster. We want to deal with this thing as fast as we can because the faster we go means our people will be given the necessary antibodies and that their bodies will be able to fight the virus. So the numbers will continue to be reduced. Supervisors drawn from head offices, provinces and districts will monitor planning, implementation and outcomes.
Let me go to the supply chain management. The immunisation supply chain of Zimbabwe consists of four levels which are central, provincial, district and service delivery. Vaccine distribution follows this channel from central vaccine to 10 provincial, 63 district vaccine stores and then to more than 1800 service delivery facilities. The central vaccine stores distributes vaccines to provincial vaccine stores. Provinces distribute vaccines to district vaccine stores and district to service delivery as well. Distribution of COVID-19 vaccine will follow the existing distribution structure of routine vaccine and supplies. In this case, there will be a slight difference.
The vaccine will be received at the airport and distributed to provinces and districts under police escort because we do not want to hear that two doses cannot be accounted for – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear] - We want the vaccine to go to the intended people. The vaccine distribution flow chart is there.
Madam President, distribution planning is based on targeted population per province. We will ensure adequate supply of potent vaccine to all eligible population. We shall ensure functional cold chain equipment at all levels. This will require that we have generators at every point where the vaccines are going to be stocked lest we have breakdown from ZESA. We need to have other means to keep the vaccines in good shape. There will be police escorts accompanying Zimbabwe expanded programme on immunisation distribution vans. So those vans which will carry the vaccines will be escorted by the police; distributed to provincial cold rooms with capacity of 9m3 under police escort and distributed to districts with cold chain capacity of an average of 200 litres or two to three refrigerators; logistical support for vaccine distribution and cold chain management throughout the period from planning to implementation. Lastly on distribution, supply fuel for central level and provincial standby generators.
On Information dissemination, advocacy communication and social mobilisation - advocacy meetings and activities to be conducted at all levels. Whilst we do this, we also ask Hon. Members to help in this matter, that it is the duty of everyone to make sure that our people are educated.
There will be national vaccination launch to be conducted virtually to rally all stakeholders for COVID-19 which we have already done. This will continue to be done as we go to the provinces, districts and health delivery centres. We will be working hand in glove with the Ministry of Information to make sure that this information is well publicised and that people know what is happening.
Social mobilisation is going to be done at all levels in order to create demand for the vaccine. Community mobilisation for vaccination will be conducted via radio, television programmes and announcements; interpersonal communication with target groups, newspaper articles, advertisement and social media campaigns, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and bulky SMEs and lastly billboards, banners, posters and both media and crisis communication addressing serious AEFIs. However, we would like to plead with everyone that misusing these social media platforms for other motives will not work because when your life is taken then you cease to be on social media. So we request and we also ask Hon. Members that wherever you are teach our people. There are people who will write all kinds of nonsense on the social media and at the same time they are the first people to ask for vaccination. This is not the time of misuse or playing around with the lives of people because life can never be bought.
Let me now come to vaccine safety monitoring and management of AEFIs and injection safety. In partnership with MoHCC-ZEPI, the National Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials Committee and MCAZ are the main drivers of vaccine safety surveillance. COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance will be guided by already existing MoHCC’s Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) surveillance guidelines and the WHO COVID-19 vaccines safety surveillance manual. Safety surveillance for COVID-19 vaccine will be further strengthened through additional:
- Training of national stakeholders and investigation teams.
- Training of national AEFI committee on casualty assessment of adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination.
- Training and preparation of health care workers on identification, management and reporting of potential cases of anaphylaxis and ensuring availability of comprehensive emergency tray at all vaccination points.
- The trainings will be provided as part of comprehensive COVID-19 vaccine introduction trainings.
Instituting active surveillance of Adverse Events of Special Interest following COVID-19 vaccination.
ZIMBABWE AEFI REPORTING
Biohazard and immunization waste management
Management of waste related to COVID-19 vaccination requires special attention due to the infectious nature of the virus. Waste generated from COVID-19 vaccination will be according to the country’s existing waste management guidelines for treatment of health waste. There will be waste segregation at point of generation following existing protocols. All medical waste will be incinerated either at point of generation if there is a functional incinerator or at some central incineration point in which case transport will be provided to move the waste to the incineration point.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Development of Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to guide planning and implementation;
- There will be pre vaccination demographic data collection;
- Conduct Preparedness Assessment to assess readiness at all levels;
- Development of data collection tools that is tally sheets, summary sheets and vaccination cards – I now have mine;
- Consolidation and reporting of the number reached will be done on a daily basis using existing platforms and structures;
- Disease surveillance will include AEFI monitoring;
- There will be blood collection to determine antibodies before and after vaccination – mine has been done;
- Conduct of a Post Campaign Coverage Survey to validate administrative data and lastly, conduct a post introduction evaluation to assess the quality of the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine and help inform future introductions.
Tentative Timeline of Activities
Planning will be on going. Training was started on 12th February for the provincial and districts. We finished on the 16th of February. On procurement, the first batch of donations received from the People’s Republic of China arrived on the 15th of February and it was collected. We have already started the processing together with the Ministry of Finance for the next batches to come. The next batch will be 600 000 and 1.200 000. We are hoping to be getting these vaccines every two or three weeks so that the programme which we have started continues and does not stop until all our people are vaccinated.
Vaccine distribution has already started and by 26th February, we would have completed distributing to health delivery centres – which is at ward level. The cold chain inventory is ongoing. Advocacy, communication and mobilisation have already started. We started on 8th February and it will continue until this vaccination on COVID 19 is complete
Monitoring and evaluation will also continue until we finish the exercise. We started vaccination today and it will continue until everybody in Zimbabwe has been vaccinated. With this brief Madam President, I finish my presentation on the rollout plan of COVID 19.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you very much Hon. V.P. and Minister of Health and Child Care. I think our Hon. Senators may need some clarifications on some areas they may need to understand better. This is the time whilst the Vice President is here.
HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Hon Vice President for your elaborate presentation. It shows that there is concern within Government on the situation of citizens. However, I want you to clarify on the issue of people with underlying conditions. I was reading somewhere where they said certain doses are not supposed to be administered on people with underlying conditions like sugar diabetes and blood pressure. You have said Government will continue to monitor the aftereffects and I would have thought that maybe we should do a few experiments in the laboratories before we experiment on the population so that we know which people are affected by what maybe because of where we come from.
I am also appealing to you as Government to look at a situation where we really get down to business in terms of trying to find our own treatment and solutions. I would be grateful if you would give us figures of any of the vaccines that you have bought to add to what we might get as donations. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Allow me to thank the Vice President and Minister of Health for a comprehensive report on the state of COVID in the nation. I would like to take this opportunity Madam President to applaud Government for taking the initiative because it was long overdue. My area which needs a bit of clarification is on the issue of cold chain. I just want to find out from the Minister whether the current vaccines which have landed in the country have got a way of monitoring if there happens to be breakdown in the cold chain. I think it is very important because electricity can go down over the night and tomorrow you can come back and say we are still maintaining the cold chain because some other vaccines have got a way where there is a colour which can change when you actually have breakdown in the cold chain. What safety mechanisms are we going to have with these vaccines to ensure that the cold chain which is key to the vaccine is maintained?
Recently, there are reports that in Zimbabwe, 61% of the COVID variant is the South African variant and very little of the other variants from other quarters. My question to the Minister is of the two potential vaccines which we are going to use, the Sinopharm and the Sputnik, to what extent are they going to be sensitive to the variant which we have? In fact, we are basically living in South Africa because it is a South African variant that we have and whether there is need for us to look at the effectiveness before we unleash the whole vaccine to the nation.
We want to hear from the Minister what plans do they have for private sector participation in this vaccine rollout because it is common cause that as we speak right now about 50% of health service delivery in Zimbabwe is being offered by private sector.
As a nation, we need to address the politics of vaccines. We need as Government to come to tops with our information dissemination because right now there is negative publicity and we will never stop such people. I wish we had a position of law where we would control when people peddle such lies for things which have public health importance. We understand these two potential vaccines, the Sinopharm and Sputnik, they have not yet gone through phase three. Johnson and Johnson and Astrazeneca have passed phase three. Can the Minister guarantee the safety of the population taking into account what I have just raised?
COVID is a public health disease, what is Government policy in terms of vaccination whether it is going to be voluntary or we have to immunize our population because this is not just an individual. It is an issue of public health importance and sometimes individual preferences or rights cannot be more than the public good. I would recommend that Government puts a policy where everyone is vaccinated unless there are contra indications to them receiving the vaccine for the greater good of the nation.
*HON SEN CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I stand up to give my view. Most of you were not in the Senate yesterday. We really praised Government and the President irrespective of party affiliation for the good work that they are doing. We came together to praise Government for their response to the pandemic. Their efforts and initiatives are next to none, it is one of the best. We are in support of your actions towards combating the pandemic. Together with your Ministers, may you continue to work hard? If there is anything that is important in the lives of citizens, it is to come before this House and deliver such information. We kindly ask you to continue contributing to a good cause in this country. We want people to be empowered so that they can go out there and disseminate information. They should leave the House with full information with regard to the pandemic. This should be done by all Ministers. Some Ministers do not do as such. Some are afraid or maybe they are lazy. We commend you for that. Some Ministers are afraid to come and give us detailed reports on what is happening in the country.
I just want to find out when you talked about three stages of rollout, are the chiefs and headmen part of the rest of the population? Where are they in the vaccination schedule? Seventy percent of the population of this country is rural and we all know that, but this schedule favours those in the urban areas. Those are the ones who are going to have access to information with regard to information dissemination of this vaccination programme. We are looking at social media, television, radios and we know quite a few in the rural areas have access to television and radio but we have quite a number of people in the rural areas who have no access to mainstream media, that is the radio and television. We do not want a population that is left in darkness.
The role of community leaders is not coming out well. It is our wish that this be written down in a document to say community leaders and MPs should work together and have a role. They may not be technically inspired but they should be taught to at least be part of the vaccination process. Thank you.
HON. SEN. MWONZORA: Mr. Vice President, I should say that I was very impressed by what looked like your mastery of the subject matter at hand. Please accept my kind compliments. My question is in relation to the poor members of our community. What specific measures is the Government taking to ensure the access of the vaccine by the poorer communities, the accessibility preferably free of charge of protective wear and sanitisers to the poorer communities? In the event of an infection, the accessibility of treatment by the poorer communities, hopefully free of charge? In the unfortunate event of death, will there be assistance of the poor with funeral expenses and the assistance of poorer families during this time. Lastly, will there be assistance of smaller companies and informal sector that has been affected by this disease? What, if any, is the Government doing towards these issues?
HON. SEN. MOHADI: I also want to thank the Vice President for the presentation that he has made to us. Most of my questions have been overtaken by events but I want to buttress one point for some of us who stay at border towns whereby we have cross borders. Today they are in Zimbabwe and tomorrow in South Africa, how are they going to take care of those people?
*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: My question to the Vice President is that when the research was done I heard a lot of researches were done but was there a research that was done on pregnant women? What was the outcome from nursing mothers and what happens to the children they will be breastfeeding? We want to know whether when we are given these vaccines we are Corona free that we can mix and mingle with people and not get affected.
*HON. SEN. MUZENDA: I want to thank the Minister of Health who is our Vice President for the clear statement. I was thinking that on the categories that he talked about, I think if it were possible, as Members of the Senate, we should be prioritised so that when we go to our provinces we would be witnesses that we have been vaccinated. What we need is a strong awareness programme because people are afraid and do not know how good the vaccine is. So they want assurance that when they have been vaccinated we are not doing away with WHO guidelines. People need awareness and teaching in the rural areas. I once attended a funeral and they were saying there was no COVID and for them to be vaccinated it would be a challenge.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NGEZI: My request is that when good things such as these are taking place, may we have vibrant educational programmes working with Chiefs and headmen. If a message or information is delivered to chiefs, people are quick to accept.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: We would want to thank the Vice President and the Ministry of Health for his report. We are thankful for the work that the Vice President has done. All of us know that health is very important for us as humans. On the side effects or reaction to the vaccine, is there an antidote if someone reacts to the vaccine?
*HON. SEN. DR. SEKERAMAYI: I stand up to support what other Senators have said. This is a very big war of COVID-19 where you cannot see the enemy but you can feel the pain. I would like to thank the President and the Vice President for explaining the measures that have been put in place to combat the pandemic through vaccination. Now vaccinations have come from China. We are expecting other vaccines to come from other countries. When they have arrived it is important that us as Members of Parliament should be foot soldiers that go to the majority of people to explain and disseminate the impact this pandemic has had on people.
This is a dreadful disease to the whole nation. Globally, it has affected everyone. Let us explain to people and encourage them to be vaccinated. Whenever there is a programme, we do have people who de-campaign a good cause, but it is our responsibility and up to us to encourage and highlight as we disseminate the information - the good thing about being vaccinated. We should explain fully so that people are motivated to be vaccinated. Thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I just want to remind Hon. Senators that we are not debating, we are actually seeking clarifications from the presentation which has been made by the Hon. Vice President.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Thank you Hon. President. I also want to thank the Hon. Vice President for this comprehensive presentation. It is a very good report, it cleared all suspicions which people, including me have been having. On the categories, I think I want to make a suggestion. The categories which I think were not mentioned or were left out are of persons with disabilities especially those who stay in institutes, they are so many. I wanted to request that we revise the categories and take into account these people since some of them may not have access to the centers where medication can be provided. We may also decide as Government to visit them at their places.
*HON. SEN. CHMBUDZI: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to ask questions to the Minister. Before I seek clarification, I would like to thank the Vice President for the presentation. Let me pass my condolences of the Hon. Ministers and people who passed on because of the pandemic.
My question is on the issue of social media. Social media is distorting information. Government has a very good programme with regard to vaccinating this nation but the problem is that we are getting a lot of distorted information. There is a lot of chaos, what is Government doing about this chaos? We once heard the passing on of Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira and the Vice President of the Senate which turned out not to be true.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. RTD GENERAL CHIWENGA): Before I respond, I will ask for your indulgence, on some of the scientific and technical questions, I will ask a team of specialists and scientists who are with me, if you might allow them to express on technical questions which were asked by Hon. Senators. Some of the information that has been asked will need our experts to give us detailed information with regard to the exact medical explanation as to what exactly we should do or which direction should we take
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: It is either you or the Deputy Minister.
HON. RTD. GEN. DR. CHIWENGA: Thank you Mr. President, if I may proceed to the first question or points of clarification that was posed by Hon. Sen. Mudzuri. People with underlying conditions – I think when I was making my presentation, I tried and gave examples of those people with conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. I even went to the extent of giving major operations – they are what we have termed to be in Phase 1, Stage 2. They qualify to be in there because we want to make sure that when the disease attacks them they will survive.
The second question you asked was, why not do that in the laboratories. We do not experiment on people. The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe is a council of our scientists, specialists and experts. They look at all these – I know that a lot has been published on social media or debates on various electronic media platforms that have been viewed by our nationals including Hon. Senators here but for us to register any drug, it must meet certain qualifications or conditions. The trials have already been done and trials on Phase 3 of the other drug, we have them. When we go out there, you will not see them. There are voluminous documents that are looked at by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe for them now to say, yes we can agree that this drug/vaccine can come into Zimbabwe. We do not experiment on people.
The figures on donations, we have received so much – just a few days ago, the President received donations from the Russian Federation. Companies are coming up with donations to give and the quantum of it, we can always bring the total but we have had some companies giving us 10 000 doses, others have pledged 25 000 doses. We have received so many pledges and believe that when those doses land in Zimbabwe, that is when we advise. Yes, we have been given by various companies or even countries or federations but we will announce it when we have sent people to say that they are now coming. Otherwise we do not also want to give a lot of expectations then somebody turns around and says, aah iya mari iya yandakanga ndati ndinokupai yakazopinda matambudziko. Tichaenda futi kuvanhu kunovataurira kuti mari iye yakapinda matambudziko? Hawugone kusunga munhu ati arikuda kukupa, kukupa hazvirevi kuti chave chikwereti. Ari kukupa asi kana chauya tinokutaurirai.
So when we have been promised a donation with reference to the vaccines, what we promised you is that whenever we receive that which was promised to us, we will without fail notify the nation upon receipt of the donation but we cannot force those countries that have promised us something to deliver to us now.
The Hon. Deputy Minister will explain in detail on the procedures because he is a physician, he will elaborate further on what I have already told you.
Hon. Sen. Dr. Mavetera, monitoring of the cold chain is something that we give great attention to. The moment electricity supply is cut off, we will trigger the generators. I have already stated that these vaccines are escorted by the police. In other words, where our vaccines are, we have got people there to make sure that nothing goes wrong. In the case that you referred to, that would be treachery and absolute sabotage. It is now a different thing altogether because there are people who are there 24hrs round the clock. So if they allow that to happen under their watch, it is no longer an accident but something completely different that now the law enforcement agents will have to look into. We are saying measures have been taken in the event of power outage.
Sixty one percent of COVID-19 variants are from the Republic of South Africa, let me say that it will be explained. We have these variants; we have got the variant in South Africa, United Kingdom, Brazil and I think the one from the United Kingdom is B.1.1.7 and we have the Brazilian one which is again another ‘B’, then we have the one in South Africa. Let me say Hon. Senator that there are now 22 variants and the virus mutates. In short, it is like us here. I will tell you something that a lot of people never put in their minds. We marry in order to procreate and regenerate the human species because we are all going to die one day. That is what the clan of the virus is like – [Laughter.] - It needs to survive. It does not want to perish, hence it continues to mutate. If there is any form of cure or medication put within the system, it changes and if the medication is changed, it continues to change. Nobody has ever chased a virus and caught it. We only need to immunise or vaccinate against the virus. I will give time to my scientists so that they elaborate more clearly. It does not mean that the virus that is in South Africa kills more than the one in Zimbabwe – it is just violent and more infectious. If we liken it to alcohol, it is stronger and a few pints will make one drunk. We just have to vaccinate ourselves from this virus.
When I came from the launch of the vaccination – I saw Dr Fauci from America; he was on television saying that we should make sure that our people are vaccinated in order to prevent COVID 19. If our generation is to continue, we should take the vaccine or else all of us will perish.
You have rightly said that there is political vaccine – I had never heard it in my life that there would be vaccine nationalism. I had never heard that phrase. I do not think Hon. Senators here had heard that phrase but it is now common. Countries and people are buying and they are stocking. It does not matter whether other countries have got the vaccine. I think you are reading what is happening in Europe on the vaccine nationalism. This is why we are saying as Zimbabweans, we are not going to sit akimbo but we are going to make sure that our people survive.
The issue of the phases – that is exactly the nationalism on the vaccine. People will be trying to play down the Sputnik Victory but in their own admission, they have said that it is the best vaccine at 92-96%. Even the British have said that they would use their own Oxford Astrazeneca and the Sputnik Victory. V stands for victory and not for five. It has been competition and it should not confuse us. We only want a vaccine which will work on the Zimbabwean people, politics aside.
All Zimbabweans should be vaccinated against COVID-19. Hon. Senators, if you listened to my statement at Wilkins, I did not say voluntary or mandatory, I said you should be vaccinated but it is everyone one way or the other we must educate our people about the vaccine. It is just like any other disease. We had HIV and AIDs and we still have it. When it started killing people, people came up with a lot of theories; some said it was witchcraft. At that time, I was advantaged because we moved around with Dr. Marova and Col. Tapfumaneyi; we visited all the herbalists and we asked for all their herbs so that they could be tested in the laboratories. We found that from those herbs that we were given, it was like bioplus which is not effective. We then concluded that we had not come up with a drug yet.
Let us go and educate our people; it does not matter how long it will take, let us not tire. Zimbabweans have never failed. We are winners in everything that we do. Let us go and educate our people so that everybody gets vaccinated and prevents oneself from this virus.
Thank you Hon. Chief Charumbira, for commending Government and the President and also acknowledging his wisdom from the onset of the pandemic when he called for the whole country to unite so that we fight our enemy which we cannot see through our eyes and it helped us. Regionally, this has made us to be people who are aware of what is happening in the rural and urban areas. We know what is happening in the four corners of this country. Yes, we can miss here and there but we know what is happening on the ground. That will give us strength to continue to move forward and we will remain united. Whenever we face challenges we will come back to you and let you know the challenges which we would have encountered and this is how we plan to move forward.
What you have talked about Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira that the vaccination awareness roadmap favours people in urban areas, yes you have said it correctly. We are saying, maybe I did not articulate it well, all of us including Hon Members from the National Assembly, as our leaders, let us go out there and unite with the chiefs, headmen, and councilors and we educate the people. When we are addressing these people we should remember to put them in small groups that should not exceed 30 people. It can be teachers or headmasters, go out and talk to them. Government employees are encouraged to play a part in the awareness campaign. Everyone who is able to articulate these issues should go and tell the people.
In response to Hon. Sen. Mwonzora’s contribution, we have said the vaccine is free and we are making sure that everyone who needs to be vaccinated is vaccinated. It is not them who are coming to us but it is us going to them. There should not be any problem on that aspect.
We have been given some donations and even in areas where we have clinics and public places in terms of sanitising the area or helping at gatherings to make sure that people are sanitised, we have been helping but also at the same time, just educating our people to say, you have visited the toilet or you have shaken somebody by accident go and wash your hands with running water. We try to do that. In terms of assistance at funerals, we have been trying and we are asking Hon Senators that you must educate the people. If somebody dies in the village the nearest hospital should confirm whether the person has died of COVID or not. If that person was positive, everything is done in terms of WHO regulations and the Ministry of Health must be involved in the burial of that person because we do not want that virus to spread. We do not know at the moment when somebody dies, what form of variant would have killed that person. This is why you see all COVID cases, even the pallbearers will be in their PPEs and even the coffin, there are certain things which will be done and I will ask Hon. Dr. Mangwiro to expand on that.
On food assistance, this is a question which can be answered fully by Hon. Prof. Mavima. As Government, we are putting money for the urban population and we have said they must open their bank accounts. We know there was a time when the monies could not move properly in the banks. Initially, we started with $300 payouts but now we are assessing to increase the amounts. We are trying to cushion those families in urban areas. We are not only giving food to those in rural areas but also in urban areas. There could be problems here and there and we are asking Hon Senators that when you get to such situations, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare must be informed that this particular area needs assistance. This is why as Government, in the last Cabinet, we declared a state of disaster on all roads in urban and rural areas. We want to repair all roads so that people are able to visit each area.
If you watched ZTV yesterday, there was a bridge which was swept away which was being repaired because it is a link to communities which require to be fed on the other side of the river. You saw what we did when we had the cyclone in Chimanimani and in Gwanda at Mbembesi. We had to close the road and give the contractor some instructions to work 24 hours a day. We are trying to do that.
Hon. Sen. Mwonzora you are aware that last year the Government
gave a stimulus package but we will assess. If this goes on, Government
is not going to turn a blind eye on that, it will react but at the present
moment, this is why we are still on level 4 but we took our time to relax
some of the measures like from 1500 hours to 1700 hours and the curfew to between 2000 hours to 0500 hours. We are quite concerned about that but we are going to see. The President is going to assess and we will be monitoring the situation for the next two weeks.
Even if we do not want to lose any lives but when we get four from
the figure which I had in January of 70 per day coming down to four, we
see there is a drastic improvement. Also, our recoveries are now 89,2%
and so we are seeing improvement from the measures which His
Excellency has put in place. I want to leave Hon. Chifamba’s question
on pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and other activities to my
Hon. Sen. Muzenda, I think I have said people from 60 years and
Above, so if you are in that range, surely as leaders we want to first take
care of our people then we follow but we do not forget the elderly 60
years and above. The education, I have talked about it that people are
ignorant, correct and we must continue to educate them.
Hon. Senator Chief Ngezi, I thank you and agree with you that we
should go and educate our people. Hon. Senator Tongogara, I will leave
the issue on side effects to my scientist. However, at every vaccination
centre, there will be a trail to assess on those who will have reacted. We
had to take time to confirm and inspect what they would have done.
Hon. Dr. Sekeramayi, I would like to thank you for your support and
appreciation of everyone in Government who had a role to play in
coming up with such an initiative. We are acknowledge that. As you
mentioned, as Senators you have constituencies and we know working
together with Members from the Lower House, non-constituency
Members, we expect people to understand. We should unite and work
together despite political affiliations to fight this pandemic in those
constituencies because the next victim is unknown. We should
encourage each other to work together.
Hon. Senator Khupe, the categories you wanted to understand,
those are the vulnerable groups. The disabled are in the vulnerable
groups so that area is covered under the vulnerable groups and also in confined areas. So those are the areas we are going to visit and will also depend on you Hon. Senators to give us information in the event that we overlook some of these vulnerable groups. I think people did not realise that there is such a place. I would want to ask Hon. Senators to assist, we are in this together.
*Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi, we want to thank you for the message of condolences on the loss of Hon. Ministers, this happened in a short space of time. A lot of people died including Dr. S. B. Moyo. Arch. Matiza and General Zimondi, they died on the same day. It was touching, it is very difficult for us to just get rid of such memories. It is very painful. We want to thank you for that message, but I say it was God’s will. Let us continue as a nation to fulfill their dreams and vision. I know in this House you have lost quite a number of people, Senator Shiri, Senator Moyo and Senator Gwaradzimba. We all know their visions, if we are able to fulfill their vision, that will comfort us.
On social media, I think the Minister responsible for media is here. She has her hands glued on the Bill. We do not deny people to go on social media but we expect them to be responsible, ubuntu - people to behave and not to engage in dissemination of fake news. If you are insulted you feel pain, but if you are inflicted with pain you complain. It is good when you enjoy it on others but you complain when that is now done on you. Mwari paakasika munhu haana kuisa mutemo asi akazoisa mutemo maererano nokutadza kwedu. Before the death there was no such law to do with murder, what is happening is now out of control. We need to have a law that curbs such behaviour on social media. It is uncalled for. In other countries they are banning such behaviour. We do not want people who abuse social media. Whenever they cannot sleep, they engage in insulting people. People cannot buy clothes for themselves but they will be busy concentrating on insulting people on social media. People create fake accounts and get themselves into social groups. You find that one person will be changing accounts and insulting people during the night. So those with the responsibility of coming up with a law are working on that.
Thank you Hon. President, if you may allow me to ask Hon. Minister Mangwiro to answer some of the technical questions.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. DR. MANGWIRO): Thank you Mr. President. I will explain on the issue of vaccine, traditionally that is what we call nhomba. What we call a virus, what we are referring to is something that has destroyed people globally. It is now known these days that if you contract the virus and kill it – when someone is injected with that virus, antibodies come out to fight those dead viruses that have come through the body. There is what we call antibodies in the immune system. When a virus comes through, it will be destroyed by those antibodies, that is what we are calling vaccine. You will have been given a virus, what we call attenuated whose strength has been removed. It is a way of fighting the virus indirectly. This virus will not have strength when it attacks you because you are already protected now. This is how the virus works. This was seen in the ancient days by Louis Pasteur, this vaccine issue but it had started in West Africa. What happened is that people are vaccinated with this vaccine. There is a way of killing this vaccine or using it until it gets to the person. Firstly these vaccines way back needed 15 years for it to be used on humans, but because of advanced technology, nowadays we are able to come up with a vaccine over short period of time.
The Sinopharm vaccine that was given to us was looked at by experts. They actually did phase one then phase two. Before it is administered on people, we have what we call WHO which is the one that named this pandemic Covid-19. They write to confirm that yes, this vaccine does work. For example to see how it works, it can be administered on a sample of five or ten healthy young men. We can have university students being experimented on to see how this vaccine works. What we have now in the country is a vaccine that has been dealt with already. They have studied it fully. We cannot continue to do further studies on the vaccine, we have what we call Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe that has the mandate to look at issues related to this. They do extensive research on such matters to obtain full details of how the vaccine works. They even reach out to countries as far as Chile, countries that would have volunteered to do such experiments. They actually confirm to acknowledge the information to see whether it is true with the World Health Organsiation that these vaccines went through them.
I want to assure you and highlight to you that nothing comes into this country without being looked at thoroughly to see the side effects. We have scientists who are very good at looking at all these things; we are above board with regards to such matters. These things would have been looked at by Zimbabwean experts who are very much knowledgeable in this field.
There is the issue of the variant from South Africa; we are saying 61% of the infected people have the South African Variant. Like what the Vice President has said, viruses mutate every day, it needs a year to say the virus has mutated over 24 hours. We cannot come up with a vaccine over 24 hours. When it comes to mutation, nothing is changing, what is changing is the structure but it still remains the same with regards to how it looks. There is nothing to be afraid of, variants will continue coming on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The virus is also trying to fight the efforts to thwart it so it is ever changing on a daily basis.
The issue of people getting buried; people would have died of COVID 19; there are rules and regulations of handling the corpse, that have been outlined. Those procedures should be followed and those who will be doing this on the front line should be having adequate personal protective equipment. They will be having their suites, glasses, goggles because any mistake in handling, they contract the virus. We have come up with such regulations because a corpse can no longer communicate with us but the mourners also can no longer practice the traditional practice of touching the corpse or any other traditional practices that are followed when one has passed on. Things have changed because of the pandemic.
At every funeral, a health personnel should be present and they should make sure that protocol and procedure is followed and we encourage people at funerals to continue doing social distancing, sanitization and putting on of masks. Whenever you go to a funeral, at the entrance there should be that precaution for people to wash hands.
A question was asked on pregnant women and those breast feeding. As far back as the old days, pregnant women and those breast feeding do not get vaccinated because of side effects of the medicines. However, if we find a vaccine which stipulates that we must do that; then we may, but these side effects of the virus - some may react and faint because their blood pressure would have lowered. However, when the vaccine was made, there was no side effects found, anaphylaxes and actcaria, when such happens there are ready trays loaded with adrenalin, drips and needles to administer to individuals who react in that manner to the vaccine.
There are those cross borders who go to South Africa; everyone should be vaccinated. When they are traveling to South Africa, they should be able to show proof that they would have been vaccinated. We are also going to encourage people to be vaccinated before crossing borders. So, it is very important for people to get vaccinated before traveling to help people combat the spread of this pandemic.
We are going to be proactive - we will have to go to the borders before people cross to the other side and make sure that people have been vaccinated.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I would like to inform Hon. Senators that the Vice President’s presentation has been sent to your e-mails. So you will have time to go through it. Secondly, I also want to remind Hon. Senators who come here physically to debate to always bring your tablets so that when you debate, other Senators who will be out there will be able to follow the debate. Without those gadgets our virtual is rendered a failure. I thank you.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA), the Senate adjourned at Sixteen Minutes to Six o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021.