By Bernard Mpofu
Syndicates are selling fake Covid-19 vaccination certificates to Zimbabweans that are unwilling to take the vaccines, but fear being excluded from certain services for not having taken the jab, it has emerged.
Inoculation against Covid-19 remains voluntary in Zimbabwe, but some government officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, have hinted that proof of vaccination could be used to access government jobs and public transport in future.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government was worried about the proliferation of fake Covid-19 certificates.
“Cabinet noted with concern that some unscrupulous persons are producing fake Covid-19 vaccination certificates for sale to unsuspecting members of the public,” Mutsvangwa told journalists recently.
“Investigations are underway in order to bring the culprits to book.”
Health experts say the absence of security features on the Covid-19 vaccination certificates has been a boon for unscrupulous printing companies and health officials, who are now selling the fake certificates for US$50 each.
Three people were recently arrested at Seke South Clinic in Chitungwiza for allegedly operating a ring selling fake Covid-19 vaccination certificates.
The syndicate that involved staff at the clinic and outsiders was charging between US$25 and US$50 for the certificates.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will conduct mass Covid-19 vaccinations at its ports of entry and major urban areas as a way of combating the spread of the disease.
Mutsvangwa said the government would scale-up vaccinations after receiving vaccines from China and India.
“As at 25 March 2021, a total of 11,915 people had been vaccinated, against a target of 25, 000, a number which has since increased,” she said.
“Focus is now on hotspots which include the country’s major points of entry and exit, that is, Beitbridge, Plumtree, Chirundu, Kariba, Forbes and, Nyamapanda.
“Also included will be Mutare and the two metropolitan cities of Harare and Bulawayo.
“With regard to vaccines, Cabinet was informed that uptake of the Sinopharm vaccine has increased significantly, following the launch of Phase 2 by His Excellency the President, in Victoria Falls on 24 March 2021.
“Beneficiaries under this Phase include people with pre-existing chronic conditions, the elderly and those confined to settlements and institutions, such as prisons and refugee camps. Work on a civil service vaccination plan is underway.”
Mutsvangwa said following the resumption of inter-city travel, government was strengthening surveillance of the activities of public transporters to ensure adherence to Covid-19 regulations.
“The general transport situation is also being reviewed for the commuting public following reports of many commuters relying on unconventional means of transport in the form of pick-up trucks and lorries,” she said.