Zimbabwean employers bet on Covid-19 vaccine for business restart

By Kenneth Matimaire

An initiative by Zimbabwe’s private sector will see at least half a million workers and their immediate family members getting Covid-19 vaccines as part of a push to reopen the economy. 

The Business Prevention, Preparedness and Response Initiative (BPPRI), is being spearheaded by business membership organisations that include the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Mines, Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, Insurance Council of Zimbabwe, Horticulture Development Council, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism, Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe and health insurance providerCimas.

CZI is coordinating the initiative while Cimas is providing technical support.

The organisations have already gathered data to establish the number of companies willing to participate in the vaccination programme.

“The motivation is to assist government, thereby reducing the burden on the state as well as to enable business to quickly and safely return to usual operations through resumption of normal economic activities,” said CZI in a recent statement.

The outbreak of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe in March last year, has led to serious business disruptions and job losses due to prolonged lockdowns to control the spread of the virus.  

Zimbabwe launched a mass Covid-19 vaccination programme in February, and it is targeting to vaccinate at least 10 million people or 60 percent of the population to reach herd immunity by the end of the year.

Businesses say they want to speed up the vaccination of their workforce for them to reopen safely. 

“We are looking at plus or minus 500,000 (people to be covered),” said CZI chief executive officer,  Sekai Kuvakira.

Kuvakirasaid the initiative will enable business to quickly and safely return to usual operations through resumption of normal economic activities.

A recent survey by CZI revealed that employers were willing to pay for the vaccination of 257,863 of their employees and 39,986 immediate families, including spouses.

According to the survey, 76 percent of the companies highlighted that they would cover vaccinations costs of employees and their immediate families, while 24 percent will only cover employees and their spouses. 

Most of the employees are covered by CIMAS (44 percent) followed by First Mutual Health (20 percent), out of the 14 medical insurance firms that were surveyed.

The survey showed that 70 percent of the companies that responded are committed to a private sector collective contribution of vaccines to the national effort while 21 percent indicated they would not be able to commit, and nine percent were still considering whether to commit or not.

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