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Zimbabwe to stop paying unvaccinated govt workers

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (AP) – Zimbabwe’s government said it will stop paying salaries of staff who are unvaccinated against COVID-19, while ordering those who have received jabs to report for work at their offices “with immediate effect”, after more than a year of most government employees working from home, state media reported on Tuesday.

The southern African country has in recent weeks relaxed restrictions on public gatherings as cases of the Omicron variant appear to have started receding.

Staff without proof of vaccination will be barred from their workplaces, face “disciplinary proceedings” and forfeit their pay, the state-run Herald newspaper reported, citing a government notice seen by The Associated Press.

Those who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds should provide an exemption certificate from a medical practitioner, according to the notice by the Public Service Commission, which is in charge of employment conditions for government workers.

Government departments have been operating with skeleton staff while most employees worked from home as part of COVID-19 prevention measures since 2020.

A woman holds her vaccination card after getting a second shot at a government hospital in Harare. PHOTO: AP

The government in September last year ordered all its 500,000 workers to get vaccinated against the virus. The country’s largest labour federation has gone to the courts to challenge vaccine mandates imposed by the government and private employers.

About 22 per cent of Zimbabwe’s 15 million people have received two shots of vaccines and the government has introduced booster jabs for those interested.

Late last year Zimbabwe introduced vaccinations for children aged 16 years and older, saying it has acquired enough vaccines, mainly Sinopharm and Sinovac from China.

The government had aimed to vaccinate more than 60 per cent of the population by the end of 2021 and is now trying to reach that goal in 2022.