US and UK at it again

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AS Zimbabwe heads towards the 2023 harmonised elections, there is little surprise that the UK, the US and their local cohorts are laying siege on the many successes that Government has scored so far, especially the resoundingly successful COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The UK also continues to impose sanctions on local businesspeople who have ably supported Zimbabwe’s economic revival initiatives.

While the focus of the latest onslaught by Western countries seems to be aimed at the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the reality is that their eyes are still firmly on the economy as they forge ahead with their plan to paralyse the country to achieve illegal regime change.

Zimbabwe is one of the leading countries in Africa on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and is targeting 10 million people to achieve herd immunity.

On Sunday, Government which took delivery of one million Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from China, taking the total number of doses to five million, also announced that it had purchased an additional 6,5 million jabs, bringing the total to 12 million doses.

So far, Government has used US$93 million of the US$100 million that has been set aside for acquisition of the vaccines.

In addition, Zimbabwe has also joined the African Union (AU) vaccination facility, where it has paid US$7,5 million.

The AU signed an agreement under the COVAX arrangement in March this year for the supply of 400 million doses that will be provided over 18 months.

At least 27 African countries that paid for the doses will begin to receive six million vaccines this week, AU’s special envoy on the COVID-19 vaccination programme, Strive Masiyiwa said last week.

The six million doses covers the period of July and August, with the AU expecting to ship 10 million doses a month.

Zimbabwe will get one million shots under the COVAX facility, with the overall total of the jabs that the country has acquired expected to reach 18 million.

“We have received one million Sinovac vaccines,” said the Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, at Robert Mugabe International Airport on Sunday. 

“I am happy to say our programme of buying vaccines is going very well. 

“We are also expecting another 1,5 million vaccines later this week. 

“So everything is going very well.

“These one million vaccines we received mean we have about 5,5 million vaccines that we have received so far. 

“Going forward we have paid for another 6,5 million vaccines which would then take us to 12 million vaccines; they are all fully paid for.

“So for the 12 million vaccines including syringes, we have spent about US$93 million that we have already paid. 

“In addition to that, we paid another US$7,5 million for the acquisition of vaccines from the AU facility.

“We are still going to receive another 1,15 million vaccines from the COVAX facility, the AU facility for which we had already paid for that is going to give us another five million.

“Resources are not our problem at the moment. 

“The issue is just availability of vaccines and then vaccination speed on the ground, but vaccination speed on the ground has also picked up.

“The resources we have used so far, the US$100 million we have set aside, is coming from the 2020 surplus. 

“So you can see that we are making use of the surplus to meet the requirements for vaccine acquisition.”

While Zimbabwe has been revelling on this and other successes scored so far in agriculture, mining and road rehabilitation among others, the US and the MDC have, on one hand, been frantically trying steal the glory of the vaccination programme, while the UK added a key player in agriculture and COVID-19 vaccination programme to its sanctions list, Kuda Tagwirei.

Last week, MDC secretary-general Charlton Hwende claimed that the success of the vaccination programme should be attributed to his beleaguered party.

“Statistics show that the number of Zimbabweans who were vaccinated increased significantly this (last) week following a sustained campaign by the MDC Alliance leadership encouraging citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” claimed Hwende who together with senior members of the MDC initially discouraged Zimbabweans from being inoculated with the Chinese-made vaccines despite having been vaccinated early in the year.

“We continue to encourage all citizens in both rural and urban areas and across the political divide to get vaccinated so that the country can achieve herd immunity against COVID-19,” he said. 

Together we can defeat COVID-19.”

This came after Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba unearthed a shocking US-sponsored vaccination ‘programme’ where Uncle Sam was caught red-handed trying to smuggle unregistered vaccines via MDC channels.

Wrote Charamba: “MDC-Alliance is in a bit of a bind which it now seeks to resolve, abortively aided by the undiplomatic US man here. 

They have been given two tranches of American vaccines, in total amounting to half a million doses, for a political vaccination programme through which they hope to checkmate the goodwill that has accrued to ZANU PF through a sprite public vaccination programme.

The two vaccines they have been given are not registered in Zimbabwe. 

Therein lies their dilemma!!! The laws of the country do not allow importation of unregistered vaccines!!!

The US Embassy strategy has been to desperately stampede the Ministry of Health to allow Government to accept importation and administration of those unregistered vaccines, using COVAX facility. 

This would then provide cover to this political donation. Unfortunately for them, Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines which are now registered for use in the country, are now registered with the WHO, making them part of the COVAX menu. 

Zimbabwe insists that any assistance under COVAX limits itself to those registered vaccines. 

The US and their MDC-Alliance lackeys are in a real bind. And so desperate is the US Mission here to have US vaccines registered through executive directive – not through the relevant authorities – that a top Embassy official impudently wrote directly to Health Ministry hoping for a directive. 

In terms of diplomatic communication etiquette, Embassies write to line ministries through Foreign Office, a route which this top Embassy official decided to sidestep out of desperation. 

Of course Foreign Ministry was not amused and rapped knuckles of the official. 

Meanwhile MDC-Alliance stands unstuck and transfixed, with the item getting repeatedly deferred at their top meeting. Upshot: The new, frenetic pro-vaccination messaging by the MDC-Alliance officials and Party is not a change of heart or greater public health awareness. 

It is political. 

Handei tione!!!!!”

The British, not to be left out in the relentless onslaught, announced on Thursday last week that they had imposed sanctions on Tagwirei whose several initiatives have kept Zimbabwe afloat.

Tagwirei has supported the Government of Zimbabwe’s programmes like the resoundingly successful Command Agriculture programme, among others.

This comes as opposition MDC vice-president Tendai Biti said on July 18 2021 that the West must tighten the screws on Harare.

The UK said on Thursday that it had imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on Tagwirei as it scales up its onslaught on Zimbabwe.

London said the sanctions will also apply to any entities owned or controlled by Tagwirei in a move seen as a racist attempt by Zimbabwe’s former coloniser to annihilate black economic empowerment.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab claimed Tagwirei was corruptly benefitting from Government’s initiative, a ruse that has been used by the West to frustrate Zimbabwe’s economic revival efforts.

“He (Tagwirei) profited significantly from the misappropriation of property at the expense of wider macroeconomic stability in Zimbabwe, in one of the most serious incidences of corruption under the current Government,” Raab claimed.

“His company, Sakunda Holdings, redeemed Government of Zimbabwe Treasury Bills at up to 10 times their official value. 

“His actions accelerated the deflation of Zimbabwe’s currency, increasing the price of essentials, such as food, for Zimbabwean citizens.

“The action we have taken today targets individuals who have lined their own pockets at the expense of their citizens. The UK is committed to fighting the blight of corruption and holding those responsible for its corrosive effect to account.

“Corruption drains the wealth of poorer nations, keeps their people trapped in poverty and poisons the well of democracy.”

The sanctions, said Raab, would ensure Tagwirei will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country.

On August 5 2020, the US imposed sanctions on Tagwirei saying he was promoting anarchy in Zimbabwe.

We know what the West is trying to do and let there be no surprise if Harare responds to the onslaught in kind in the near future.

Let those with ears listen.

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