Since early 2020, wearing masks has been mandatory in Zimbabwe. Whilst most other regions have eased mask mandates, Zimbabwe has not for ages. Despite that being the case, many places in Zimbabwe have gradually done away with masks in a way. There are many places where you can now go the whole day moving about without a face mask. It is no longer being enforced as used to be the case before. It is commonplace nowadays to even find law enforcement officers not wearing face masks. This has largely led people to query why we are still mandated to put on face masks. As if the government has been reading people’s minds, they have decided to ease face mask mandates. That is our discussion in this article.

Face Mask Mandate Eased: Here Is What Government Has Said

The Minister of Information and Publicity, Monica Mutsvangwa announced during a post-cabinet briefing on Tuesday 16 August 2022. She indicated that for indoor public places and public transport, wearing face masks remains mandatory. Here is part of what she said:

Those who have received 3 doses of the WHO recommended vaccines are exempted from the mandatory wearing of face masks in outdoor public places, but should however wear masks in indoor public places and on public transport. Those fully vaccinated should carry their cards all the time. All provinces should continue intensifying COVID-19 vaccination activities for the nation to achieve herd immunity.’

A Look At The Contradictions

What ‘Fully Vaccinated’ Means

Nick Mangwana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services was asked to clarify on Twitter. Asked on what ‘fully vaccinated’ means, he said it refers to 3 jabs. This is far divorced from what the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) say. The CDC and WHO have indicated that the initial definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ remains the same. If you have received 2 shots or jabs, you are considered fully vaccinated. This was concerning the issue of booster shots. The booster shot effectively becomes the 3rd shot but is not the basis for one to be considered fully vaccinated. In essence, a booster shot is optional.

The Zimbabwean government is now implying that without a booster shot one is not considered fully vaccinated. This effectively means the booster shot, which is supposed to be optional, is now being forced on people. I am not going to speculate on why that is so but there may be hidden reasons behind that.

Are These Jabs Really For Vaccination??

Many angles to this question have been explored on many platforms. I am not going to get into some of them that people write off as conspiracy theories. Here I just want to bring your attention to this latest face masks mandate review. They highlighted that if you are fully vaccinated you are no longer mandated to wear a face mask in outdoor public. Yet when you are at indoor public areas e.g. indoor concerts, you are mandated to wear a face mask.

As an example, that means if you are at an outdoor concert no face mask is necessary. That does not make sense at all because whether indoor or outdoor, it is a public area full of people packed together. Even if we abandon that argument, if fully vaccinated why should one need a face mask at all? These are just some of the logical deductions that bring into question whether these jabs are truly for vaccination.

That is the latest on face masks in Zimbabwe. According to WHO, as of 24 July 2022, a total of 11 970 435 vaccine doses had been administered. According to Our World in Data, as of 15 August 2022, 12.2 million doses have been given. The number of fully vaccinated people in Zimbabwe is around 4.69 million. This translates to 31.6 percent of the population being fully vaccinated. Herd immunity percentages seem to differ according to who you ask. According to Pfizer, herd immunity should range from 70 to 90 percent of the population. Based on that, Zimbabwe is still far away from achieving herd immunity.