BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday said government must have consulted church leaders before announcing that church services could resume only for congregants that have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Church representative bodies and pastors must have been engaged and consulted before announcing any decision affecting them was made,” Chamisa said on Twitter.
“No government command decisions must be made without prior adequate consultations with those to be affected.”
Church leaders have insisted that the new measures allowing the resumption of religious gatherings were not feasible and called for dialogue with government on practical measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 among worshippers.
Government on Wednesday allowed churches to reopen for sit-in services, but only for fully vaccinated congregants.
The government directive warned that health personnel would be deployed to churches to ensure compliance with Covid-19 regulations that church leaders, who violated the measures would be arrested.
In a joint statement by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe national executive committee and the national advisory council issued yesterday, churches said they were keen to engage the government to reach a mutual understanding and decision in the fight against the pandemic.
“While churches are at liberty to gather in line with government requirements according to their own discretion, in our humble and considered opinion, the vaccination requirement amounts to imposition of mandatory vaccination and imposes a discriminatory, unfair and inequitable burden on the church that does not happen to other sectors,” the churches said.
“The government’s directive amounts to prohibiting the church from meeting at all because the church, by its very nature cannot meet just for the vaccinated while excluding all the under 18 age group who do not qualify for vaccination, and the millions who want to be vaccinated, but cannot due to the unavailability of enough vaccines or inadequate manpower at clinics where thousands are being turned away every day.
“There are still many in our midst that still need to be convinced about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.”
Statistics released by the Health ministry showed that as of Friday a total of 2 013 340 people had received the first jab against Covid-19 while only 1 179 687 were fully vaccinated.
Health deputy minister John Mangwiro referred questions to the permanent secretary Jasper Chimedza, who was not picking calls.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa promised to respond to questions sent on her mobile phone, but had not done so by the time of going to print.