Mthuli Ncube retracts statement on selling COVID-19 vaccine to citizens

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“Look, private citizens obviously would have to pay for the vaccines”- Mthuli Ncube

HARARE – Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube has reverted on his statement that Zimbabweans will be required to pay for COVID-19 vaccination.

In a statement to ZTN, Professor Ncube had said, “Look, private citizens obviously would have to pay for the vaccines. The payment is meant to enable the government to “recoup” costs of procurement.”

He further clarified his expected sequence of distribution which prioritises frontline healthcare workers followed by the elderly and the vulnerable.

“Private citizens will have actually to pay for the vaccine. The vaccine is cheaper than the PPE we are procuring. This will also help us as the government to recoup some funds. We are targeting to cover the whole population. We will cover those who cannot afford it. The Ministry of health will clarify the distribution. All the logistical arrangements will be clearer when we procure the vaccine.”

However, his secretary, George Guvamatanga had said, “Once all the scientific verifications are complete, Treasury has the capacity to pay for vaccines to meet all the needs of each and every Zimbabwean who will have to be vaccinated”.

While there is no clarity on who or what is a “private citizen”, the Minister’s statement attracted widespread criticism and he has now moved in to calm the storm, in a contradictory fashion.

In a statement released today, Professor Ncube said, “It has come to my attention that my comments about the payment for the COVID-19 vaccine have been taken out of context.

“I would like to make it clear that the vaccines that the Government is procuring with the support of our international partners and friends will be made available for free, to all Citizens of Zimbabwe,” he added.

Zimbabwe is currently on level four of lockdown, initially put in place for the month of January 2021, and now extended to February 15 following a surge in COVID-19 infections.

As of February 2, 2021, Zimbabwe has recorded 33814 infections, with 1254 deaths and 26794 recoveries.

According to Treasury, US$1100 million has been set aside for the acquisition of 20 million doses of vaccine enough to immunize 60% of the country’s population and achieve herd immunity.

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