Police Thursday vowed to come down on defiant churches found breaching government’s controversial decision to open church doors to fully vaccinated congregants only.
The government decision was announced at a post-cabinet media briefing by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa Wednesday.
In a statement, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police were ready to enforce the directive.
“Churches are implored to strictly comply with the vaccination directive for congregants as stipulated by the Cabinet on 11th august 2011,” Nyathi said.
“The Zimbabwe republic police will assist health officials to ensure compliance and arrest anyone defying the safety protocols.
“Police will also take action against those who might try to take advantage of the directive and produce fake vaccination certificates.”
Reacting to the government directive Thursday, local churches coalescing under the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) said the directive was both impractical and a theological ruin.
The church leaders said while the decision to open up the church was welcome, “theologically, the church is an open and welcoming space for everyone with no restrictions. No one qualifies for church service as it is a place of God’s grace”.
Added the church group, “The church will find it very difficult to turn people home because they do not have a vaccination certificate.
“However, would it be responsible to meet in an uncontrolled environment where possibilities of spreading the virus are high?”
The church leaders said it was also impractical for the church to enforce the discriminatory order on its members, some of whom have different conditions that did not allow them to get vaccinated.
“Practically, less than 10% of the population has been vaccinated. There is a group of citizens that does not get vaccinated due to age or because they have not yet had a chance to be vaccinated. It will be difficult for the church to deny people to receive the means of grace simply because they have not been vaccinated when access to this vaccination is restricted.”
Also commenting on the government decree, MDC Alliance top politician and lawyer Tendai Biti said the directive was unlawful.
“Whilst we support unreservedly the vaccination agenda, it is unconstitutional, unlawful, discriminatory & hypocritical to require vaccination as a precondition to enjoyment of the right to worship. Only masking & social distancing should be a requirement,” Biti said through his Twitter handle.