Army ‘invades’ Covid-19 vaccination

By Nkosana Dlamini

The Zimbabwe National Army in Bulawayo was Monday roped in to augment government’s vaccination exercise as the nation presses the gas pedal in its bid to notch up a targeted 10 million herd immunity by end of this year.

The army is conducting the inoculation exercise in collaboration with the Bulawayo City Council that has set up 33 stationary centres and 29 mobile ones in the country’s second capital.

Bulawayo targets 400 000 to achieve city herd immunity.

In a notice to the public Monday, Town Clerk Christopher Dube said the outreach exercise involving the army is being conducted in Cowdray Park and Emganwini suburbs.

“The City of Bulawayo in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces will be conducting a community outreach Covid-19 Vaccination Programme in Cowdray Park – Hlalani Kuhle Consortium Office and Emganwini (Food for Less Shopping Centre).

“The exercise which is part of ZDF’s Community Outreach programme will be from Tuesday, 3 August 2021 to Friday, 6 August 2021,” Dube said.

The city boss invited all residents above 18 to attend the inoculation exercise.

Last month, government announced it was adding some police stations, army barracks and bus termini to its growing list of vaccination centres to add impetus to the inoculation exercise.

The involvement of the military in the country’s health delivery space is not the first of its kind as doctors from the military are often called to the rescue when civilian doctors go on strike within public hospitals.

The participation of the military in efforts to restore good health among civilians brings a refreshing August narrative to a country that has now been forced to look back to every 1 August, the date in 2018 in which truckloads of soldiers were deployed to gun down civilians in central Harare, ostensibly to quell post-election violence linked to disgruntled opposition sympathisers.

In Matabeleland, citizens even have sobering memories of the military which is responsible for the 1980s killing of 20 000 civilians in the region and the Midlands under what is now commonly referred to as the Gukurahundi Atrocities.